God’s Love: The Best Gift


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

God is love.

We hear this all the time, and Scripture affirms his character is the very essence of love. Yet, we make the mistake of ignoring Scripture and, instead, defining God’s love in terms of what we think it is, rather than first understanding what his love means and then measuring ours in the light of it.

Too often, we assume that God’s love is a warm, fuzzy feeling, happy butterflies in the stomach about almost anything, even our favorite ice cream.

But God’s love goes right to the core of who he is—tough and caring. It’s often the tough love we experience before finding our Savior’s tender mercy and care. Many come to the love and forgiveness of God only after first hitting the proverbial brick wall. If we’re running away from his will and purpose at full speed, we may meet God on the road in the most unpleasant way—an accident, heartbreak, or a life catastrophe.

The truth is that however painful God’s tough love may seem at the moment, his care is behind the events that lead us to his love and mercy. God is so serious about his best for our lives that he doesn’t care if we disapprove of his toughness. Nothing causes him to waver from the destiny he determines for us.

That’s how strong his love is. He’s not the pushover grandparent who readily gives in to whatever the grandchild wants. God is constantly on the watch for anything that may jeopardize his best for us and stays on course in bringing it all to pass.

Since his love is so much wider and deeper than any human love could ever be, his severity in maintaining it will be so much greater than ours. We may groan and complain, but he’ll not loosen his grip on us just because it’s uncomfortable or because we feel like it’s unfair!

God’s love exceeds ours at every point. Are we patient toward those whom we love? He’s more so. Do we want to see the very best for them in life? It’s no less with God. Do we want to give them the moon for Christmas? So it is with God. His love is better, higher, and longer lasting than ours. It’s superior in every way and is never less than ours. It’s always and in every way in perfect alignment with his perfect character.

As our faith matures, we come to a happy, confident, and relaxed appreciation of his love. We trust him amid life’s trials, crossroads, and challenges because we know who he is and what he wants of us. We may stumble and fumble frequently in our perception of his love (especially when he doesn’t give us what we want when we want it), but things do get brighter and clearer as the years go by. We learn how to love because of his great love for us.

Putting Our Love in Action:

This Christmas season, turn the focus away from self and toward Jesus—do acts of “goodwill” in his name. Here’s an Advent challenge: Find a box, and each day, put some items you don’t need or haven’t used in a while and give them to a charitable organization. Or, give to someone you know who could be blessed by your generosity. This act could even be a loving message, a card, a note of encouragement, or a gift!
Every time we are actively involved in ministry with others towards others, we will sense the excitement of God’s presence and his overwhelming love for us.

This Advent season, may the One True Light dispel any cold darkness and hopelessness that has penetrated the depths of our being. May we experience God’s love powerfully.

John I. Snyder
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