“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Motivated by God’s Love (Tom Edwards)
Motivated by God’s Love
When asked of which commandment is the greatest of all, Jesus replied that it is to “LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH” (Mark 12:30). He then also went on to say, “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (v. 31).
What a worthy, noble, and needed pursuit for all of us today! Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone did live according to these holy principles of love toward God and toward one another? What great changes for the better there would be!
And what should motivate us toward doing our part in this? Would it not be the great love that God has shown to us – and even while we were sinners and so undeserving? As Paul writes to the Roman brethren:
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:6-10).
The word “love,” in verses 5 and 8, is from the Greek word agape. E.W. Bullinger points out that it is “A word not found in the profane writers, nor in Philo and Josephus, nor in Acts, Mark, and James. It is unknown to writers outside of the N.T. Philanthropy was the highest word used by the Greeks, which is a very different thing to [agape], and even far lower than [philadelphia]… [Agape] denotes the love which springs from admiration and veneration, and which chooses its object with decision of will, and devotes a self-denying and compassionate devotion to it. Love in its fullest conceivable form.”
That God is love is probably one of the first things we had learned about Him. And what an amazing love that is! For though we have been so unworthy, yet God showed His love to the world in the greatest way possible by giving His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly came to this world to ultimately suffer a most cruel and torturous death on the cross in order to make an atonement for every sinner.
John speaks of this love in 1 John 4:10, by saying, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The Greek word for “propitiation” (hilasmos) has been defined as “an appeasing” (Thayer), an “atoning sacrifice, sin offering…expiation; one who makes propitiation/expiation” (Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament). Jesus is that greatest-of-all sacrifice, and the only one that can truly blot out sin (cf. Heb. 10:4; Eph. 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:10).
Among his “Believe-It-Or-Not” writings, Robert Ripley makes mention of the longest love letter ever written. It was done so by a French painter by the name of Marcel de Leclure in 1875. Though the letter contained just three words – “Je vous aime” (I love you) – yet the statement was written 1,875,000 times! And not only was it written that many times, but it was also said 3,750,000 times in the process, for Leclure would dictate the statement each time to a secretary who then would recite it back, along with writing it down. So it was said and written a total of 5,625,000 times!
God, of course, as we have seen, does much more than acknowledge His love for us in words. For He has also demonstrated that by what He has done for us – as we especially see in the passages of the Lord’s crucifixion for our transgressions. So when we think of Jesus suffering and dying on the cross for all of us sinners, we can realize that He loved us that much and has, thus, truly proven His love for His Father and for humanity.
In view of what the Lord has already done for us, what great expectation the Christian can have toward whatever else God would do on our behalf. For as Paul declares, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
The story has been told about an eight-year old boy named Bradley who one morning at breakfast gave his mother the following bill:
Mother owes Bradley:
For running errands……….25 cents.
For being good………………10 cents.
For taking music lessons…..15 cents.
Total that Mother
owes Bradley………………..55 cents.
On reading this, the mother smiled; but she remained silent. When lunch time came, Bradley then saw on his plate the bill he had left — and along with it was 55 cents. Of course, he was glad to see that. But then he noticed another piece of paper, similar to his, that had been neatly folded by his plate. When he opened it, he saw that it was a bill from his mother, which read:
Bradley owes Mother:
For being good to him…………………………nothing.
For nursing him through his long illness
with scarlet fever…..………………………..nothing.
For clothes and shoes and gloves
and play things………………………………nothing.
For all his meals and
his beautiful room………………………….nothing.
Total that Bradley owes Mother……………nothing.
The story then tenderly closes by saying: “…the tears came into Bradley’s eyes, and he put his arms around his mother’s neck, and he placed his hand with the fifty-five cents in her hand, and said: ‘Take the money all back, Mother, and just let me love you and do things for you for nothing.”
Bradley came to realize just how much his mother loved him, and it motivated him toward wanting to show his love to her in return.
In similar manner, have we realized all that God has done for us in showing His love? And have we allowed that love to stimulate us toward living for Him? We certainly owe the Lord more than we could ever pay Him back.
But how many today, however, act as if God owes them something? Yet, even our obedience to His word is still part of God’s grace and not a work of merit on our part. For we can do nothing to earn or deserve God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. Rather, it is strictly because God chose to be merciful and extend His lovingkindness to the world that we can have His blessings when we meet His conditions. For Jesus died for every transgressor, but we must submit ourselves to His plan of salvation in order to benefit from that atoning sacrifice.
May we, therefore, never take for granted all the things which God has done and made possible for us, and may that love He has shown be that which will also prompt us in our worship and service to Him. “For the love of Christ compels us…” (2 Cor. 5:14, NKJV).
(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NASB).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)