In the book Miracle on the River Kwai, the Scottish soldiers, were forced by their Japanese captors to work on a jungle railroad. As time passed the men’s behavior became barbarous.
One day, the officer in charge angerly demanded the men to produce a missing shovel. He demanded they produce the shovel. When they didn’t he pull his gun and threatened to kill them if they didn’t do so immediately. When no one did so it became apparent he was going to kill all of them.
Finally, one man stepped forward, the officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel and beat the man to death. The survivor’s picked up the man’s lifeless body and carried it to the next check point. When they arrived at the second check point it was discovered that a mistake had been made and no shovels were missing.
Clearly, the soldier who stepped forward sacrificially gave up his life to save others. When word of the man’s selfless act spread through the camp, the men began to treat each other as brothers.
In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Based on the threats and actions of the Japanese officer, the soldier grasped his captor’s ruthlessness. Therefore, when he stepped forward, he knew his selfless action would be his last here on earth.
When I think of self-love, I can’t help but think of God, the true source of all true love.
God Is Love
1 John 4:8 says that, “God is love.”
The New Testament was written in a form of Koine Greek. Koine simply meaning common Greek, or the form of Greek the average person of that day spoke.
Unlike the English language, which has one word for the term “love,” Greek has several.
The term “love” used of God in 1 John 4:8 is “agape” love. In short, The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines “agape” love as a “self-giving love that is not merited.” Thus, when the Bible says, “God is love,” it is describing the substance and nature of God Himself. Thus, it is describing God as the One who “seeks the highest good in the one loved, even though that one may be undeserving” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.)
God’s nature and essence is that of sacrificial love. It is an aspect of His nature to communicate and display His love with others, not to confine or keep it to Himself.
When speaking of this aspect of God, Strong’s Systematic Theology says, “God has in himself the eternal and wholly adequate object of his love, independently of his relation to the world.”
In other words, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have perfect and loving fellowship one with another, and thus, God does not need anything outside Himself to love or display love to or with.
When someone is not compelled or forced to love another, it makes their choice to love all the more significant. Thus, God loves us because He chooses to love us, not because He must love us.
The concept of true love isn’t easy to quantify or describe. But if we want to get a good idea of some of its aspects as it relates to God, one need only turn to 1 Corinthians and review chapter 13, verses 4-7. There we see traits such as “patience,” “kindness,” “selflessness,” and the like. All these things point to the sort of love that makes up the essence of God.
God is love!
God’s Love Is Eternal
God is not simply love, His love is eternal.
Psalm 90:1-2, says, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
Psalm 90 points out that God is “from everlasting to everlasting.” If God is indeed “from everlasting to everlasting,” then His love is as well.
God’s love goes from eternity to eternity. It is unending, without limitation of time. This is a testimony of the immensity of God’s love.
The love of God is far greater and more expansive then we are able to comprehend.
God’s Love is eternal!
God’s Love Is Unwavering
God’s love is also unwavering.
The apostle Paul underscores this in Romans 8:35-39 saying, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The apostle Paul is directing his comments toward those who have embraced the love of God, through a true relationship with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
For those who might have been struggling then, or struggling now with the degree to which God’s eternal love extends to His spiritual offspring, Paul is essentially saying, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
You mean when I breath my last breath, death cannot separate me from the love of God? Correct!
Well what about the great and mighty heavenly hosts, they cannot separate me from the love of God? Correct!
What about the evil powers, they cannot separate me? Most certainly not!
Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God, once we have embraced Christ Jesus our Lord!
The only thing that can keep us from the love of God, is our rejection of that love. God does not force us to embrace His eternal love. We must choose to embrace it.
As humans our love and commitment toward others may vary at times, but God’s love never wavers toward us. What a blessing!
God’s love is unwavering!
God’s Love Is Merciful
God is love. God’s love is eternal. God’s love is unwavering. And God’s love is merciful.
The apostle Paul notes in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
Regardless of how good or bad we were before coming to faith, God was ready to shower His mercy upon us.
Some people who have lived a pretty reckless and sinful life have come to believe that they have become so offensive to God, that He could never forgive them. But, that is not what the Bible teaches. Ephesians 2:4 points out that God is “rich in mercy.” How rich? The vast expanse of the universe belongs to God, and this is merely a drop in the bucket as it relates to the degree of “mercy” He seeks to shower upon us.
In Ephesians 2:7 it says, “in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
God’s mercy has a point to it. The point being, that He greatly desires to show us His “exceeding riches of His grace.” Why? Because not only is He love, but He is kind as well.
His kindness extends well beyond anything we deserve.
God’s Love Is Redemptive
Lastly, God’s love is redemptive.
What does the term redemption mean? In the Greek it may be translated, “a loosing away.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary says it is the, “special intervention of God for the salvation of mankind.” This intervention demanded a payment for the price of man’s sin.
1 John 4:9-10 says, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 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.”
God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins that the punishment for those sins would fall on Him. In doing so, the due payment for the wrongs committed by man, was paid for and the wrath of God was fully appeased.
Galatians 3:13-14, says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”
It was the tremendous love of God that provided the Christ who redeemed us from the wrongs we have committed.
Remember the story we began with? The one in which a Scottish soldier offered up his life in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers? In the story, the soldier chose to offer himself. What if the soldier’s father were present, and instead of the soldier surrendering himself, his father, who loved him more than his own life, stepped forward, broken hearted and told the officer, take my son and kill him and allow the rest of the soldiers to live. The dynamics change greatly don’t they. It’s one thing to offer yourself, it’s another for a truly loving father to offer up the life of his one and only son to save others. That is what God the Father did on our behalf!
Romans 3:20 says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith.”
In all three verses, the Bible makes it more than clear that it was God the Father who was motivated to provide His only Son for the purpose of fulfilling His true and deep love for mankind.
God is love, and God most clearly demonstrates the depth of His love through His willingness to redeem mankind from his and her sin.
And just as the Scottish soldier freely offered up his life to save his fellow soldiers, so too did the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
What a blessing it is to know that the God we worship is love, is unwavering, is merciful, and is redemptive. On this God, we trust and hang our eternal hope on.