God So Loved That He Gave...
by John Coblentz
taken from the December 1998 newsletter of
Deeper Life Ministries
At the heart of the Gospel message is the love of God, demonstrated through the gift of His Son for the needs of a sinful, undeserving world. We joyfully celebrate that love of God and His tremendous Gift at this time of year, and yet we are saddened, knowing that most people who are celebrating give little thought to the Christ of Bethlehem.
But before we be too quick to lament the shallowness of the world's celebration, perhaps we do well to consider how deeply the gift of God has touched our own hearts.
"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16).
Let's ponder God's giving:
Has the gift of God shaped our lives? Have we, in the joy of receiving His gift, discovered the joy of giving?
- God's giving was motivated by love. The marvel of God's love grips us with special force when we have once come face to face with our own selfishness. Our "love" is too often guided by selfish interest--we love those who love us. We give to those who have given to us. We are drawn to those who please us. God loved the world--sinful, arrogant, going our own way, not paying attention to Him; in fact, wanting Him to let us alone, and considering His messages to us nothing more than a bother and an irritation.
- God's giving was sacrificial. God gave what cost Him. And such cost! He did not give what was comfortable. He did not give His surplus. He gave what He could not do without. His giving meant pain, tears, suffering, and blood.
- God's giving was generous. He gave lavishly. His gift was more than enough. He gave to all. None can look at Calvary and accuse God of being stingy or reluctant in His giving. The love of heaven was poured out. God's giving was abundant and the Gift was superlative--the BEST, the MOST, nothing has ever been given in greater measure or having greater worth.
- God's giving was directed to our specific need. The major problem of the human race is a sin problem, and God's Gift provided for forgiveness. The sentence of death was upon us, and we desperately needed a Redeemer. We can get to heaven with plenty or little food. Our water supply, the quality of our air, the condition of our shoes, our education, what family or race or nation we came from will have no bearing on where we spend eternity. But we cannot get to heaven without a Savior. God's Gift met our deepest need. Without Jesus, there is no salvation. When we meet the conditions, the salvation Jesus provides is complete.
- God's gift did not leave us irresponsible. God's Gift is priceless. It cannot be purchased or earned. And therefore it is truly a gift. But it does have conditions. God gave His Son as a Savior for the whole world, and His Son's atoning death is sufficient to reconcile to God every man, woman, and child who has ever been born. But it is not automatic salvation. To receive God's Gift, we must believe in God's Son as our Savior. We are told to repent of our sins. We are called to follow Jesus in an unconditional surrender of our will to His. By meeting the conditions, we do not earn our salvation any more than we would earn a million dollar gift from a wealthy man if he had asked us to come to his office to pick it up.
It is good to give . . . if we give as God has given. The following questions may be good for us to contemplate, not only at this season, but all the year through:
- Do I give to get?
- In what ways do I personally benefit from my giving, and have my motives been selfish?
- Do people look up to me for my giving?
- Do I give only to those who please me?
- Have I given to the undeserving?
- Does my giving bring glory to God?
- Have I gone without in the process of giving?
- Has my giving actually met needs?
- Does my giving cause genuine gratitude?
- Does my giving result in solid relationships?
- Has my giving made people more responsible?
- Has my giving made people more dependent?
- Have I helped people through my giving to be better people?