“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
As Christians, or even those who are not yet believers, we tend to forget the importance of this. We forget that God loved us so much that He gave up His only son, to die… for us, so that we may have a RELATIONSHIP with God the Father. If someone were to give you their most precious possession, what would you think?
You would think. Wow! This person must really love me. This person must love me regardless of what I do, where I have been, who I am, what I have done. This person’s love is real, unconditional, and not dependent on anything I do. If you are anything like me, I would probably think to myself “Why would they give this to me? I have not always been the best friend” and I may start dwelling on past mistakes.
Christ loves us regardless. I have had people ask about this “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing before. Yes, while it is true that in order to come to the saving grace of Christ, we must repent, but God still loves us. God still loves others. God loved us first. He sent His son to die even though we were sinners. our sins nailed him on that cross. The mockers around the cross, Jesus still loved. He still died for them. Yes, he may have “hated” what they do, but he still loved them and desired them to come to Him, seeking repentance, forgiveness and a relationship.
The Bible is pretty clear that God loves us, even though we are sinners. When we talked about hating the sin, loving the sinner, well, folks, don’t forget — we are sinners. Those in Christ are forgiven, but at one time we weren’t, and even though we are forgiven, well we still sin. A LOT. Jesus still loved us and he still does love us. Jesus died for us. I think that Romans 5:8 explains this “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing pretty plainly…
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Do you see what the bolded portion is? WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS. Does that answer the question of loving the sinner, hating the sin? I think it does.
Or this verse:
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
I think this verse answers that question as well. Why would someone who doesn’t love us even though we are awful sinners desire that all would come to Him? Why would he not wish any would suffer eternal death? If God didn’t love the sinner, hate the sin, well why would He have even bothered sending Jesus? He sent His son because he loved us… while we were all sinners. He sent His son because he loves us and wanted to make a way for us to come back to Him and restore the relationship. God loves us first. The Bible even says this, and gives us a warning as Christians.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another ….. (19) We love because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:7-11,19-20
If we do not love others yet say we are a Christian, well we are liars. That is what this verse says. Ouch. Part of loving someone is telling them the truth, yes, but we must remember that God’s love is not based on anything we do. It is based on what Christ already did for us. We must accept and repent, but the gift is already waiting for us. The punishment was already taken for us and the sacrifice made.
If we treat people as if they have to get their lives in order before we will love them, that is not biblical and that is not how God loves us. Romans 5:8 remember? Those who do not come to Christ will spend eternity separated from God, so it is important we preach the gospel, but we must love the person despite those sins/struggles. If we don’t love them, then our message of Christ’s grace and love will fall on deaf ears and I don’t think they will believe us. In fact, if we don’t love the person, why bother even sharing the amazing Gospel message with them in the first place? If we have no love for others, well who cares if they go to hell, right? I mean we don’t love them, and if you don’t love, then you don’t really care, do you? Hmm… thought provoking huh? We share because we love. We share because of God’s love for us. We share because we strive to love others the way God does. We share because we want others to experience the same love, grace, and mercy… and relationship with Jesus that we do. We love because we were there once. We were sinners in need of a Savior. Right?
This may seem kinda rambly, but all this came to my mind last night while we were reading “The Jesus Storybook Bible” to the girls before bed. It is a great children’s Bible. Check it out!! This portion of the particular story we were on stood out to me… In this lesson, the disciples were arguing about who was better and they were trying to say that they were “doing” better things for God, so therefore they were better and more important Christians. This is what it says:
“Jesus’ friends had started thinking they had to do something special to make themselves special to Jesus – that if they were the cleverest or the nicest or something, Jesus would like them best. But they had forgotten something. Something God had been teaching his people all through the years: that no matter how good you are, how clever you are,or how rich you are, or how nice you are, or how important you are – none of it makes ANY difference. Because God’s love is a gift, and, as anyone would tell you, the whole thing about a gift is, it’s free. All you have to do is reach out your hands and take it.”
This is so simply stated and it is so true. Folks, it is not about what we do. God loves us first. He didn’t tell us we have to do this or that, or get our lives straight before He would love us. He loved us so much that he sent us Jesus so that we would have the perfect gift. A relationship with Him. It is not about what you do. You don’t do A and B before God will love you. He already does. He gave you His son. Will you take that gift? Yes, we must repent of our sins, turn to Christ and believe… but you see. God loves you! No matter what you did, are doing, or will do. You don’t have to complete a checklist before God will love you. He is waiting for you with arms wide open!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
This verse says this so clearly. However, it also tells us that we cannot be good enough on our own. You simply cannot be a “good person” and expect that to get you to heaven, for none of us are good people. “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10 — No one is good enough on their own. Nothing we do is good enough. We are ALL sinners and we all make mistakes, no matter how big or small, those sins and mistakes will keep us from God. You see, it is about the relationship. It is about MORE than just “belief” for even the demons believe.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” James 2:19
You must have a relationship with Christ. You must believe in him. You must come to him. You must repent and seek forgiveness. God’s gift of love is already waiting, but you must, as the children’s bible states, reach our your arms and take it.