God’s unique, extravagant love

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A man decided he wanted to demonstrate his love for his wife. He usually left the factory sweaty and dirty but decided one day if he really loved his wife, he would clean up before he went home. He showered, shaved and put on clean clothes. He stopped at a florist and bought some flowers. He usually went in the back door, then plopped down in the den and watched TV until supper.

On this day, however, he went to the front door, rang the doorbell, and waited for his wife to answer. When she opened the door, the husband held out the flowers and said, “These are for you, honey! I love you!”

She looked at the flowers, then at her husband, then burst into tears. She said, “I’ve had such a horrible day. Billy broke his arm, I rushed him to the emergency room; I got back home, and your mother called to inform me she was coming tomorrow for a two-week visit. I tried to wash clothes and the washing machine broke. There is water all over the floor and I can’t get the repairman to call me back. And now to top it off, you come home drunk!”

Some people go the extra mile to express “I love you!” For example, guess how much Americans spend on Valentine’s Day? According to one survey, $27.4 billion, more than we do on Easter and Halloween. Two hundred and fifty million roses are produced and we spend an average of $77 a person on flowers. Consumers spend $1.8 billion on candy.

About eight billion Sweetheart candies are produced annually. That’s enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona and back 20 times! (https://www.columnfivemedia.com/work-items/infographic-valentines-day-by-the-numbers). That’s a lot of tooth decay! Roughly, 144 million Valentine’s cards are exchanged (Hallmark says Thank you!”).

Guess how much God spent to show us He loves us? John 3:16 gives us the answer: “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Someone said if you know nothing about the Bible, begin with John 3:16 and if you know everything about the Bible go back to John 3:16. Martin Luther called this verse “The Gospel in miniature.” William Hull called it “The most exquisite flower in the garden of scripture.” Tim Tebow brought to national attention to this verse by wearing it on his eye black as he quarterbacked the Florida Gators.

This verse communicates the uniqueness of God’s love. Out of several Greek words translated “love,” John used agape, the kind of love based not on the nature of the object as lovely, nor on the subject and object as sharing common interests, but on the deliberate decision to love as God loves. What is unique about agape?

God’s love is unique because it is unconditional. We often put conditions on our love. We say, “I will love you IF …” God puts no conditions on His love. He loves us just the way we are. And then He loves us so much that He helps us grow beyond the way we are.

God’s love is unique because it’s unselfish. Often, we give because we hope to get something in return. We’re not thinking of the other person as much as we’re thinking of ourselves. What can we get out of this relationship? How will this transaction benefit me?

Agape love always puts the other person’s needs first. Someone wrote, “Agape love … voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return.” (https://www.compellingtruth.org/agape-love.html). This love always gives.

God’s love is unique because it is sacrificial. Moffatt translates this verse, “God loved the world so dearly that He gave up His only Son …” The verb tense indicates a day came when God sent His Son to earth, pointing Him ultimately to a cruel, tortuous execution on the cross. Yet, the Father showed no reluctance, for this sacrifice had to be made. Sinful man needed a Savior, and the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Romans 5:8 reads, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s extravagant love!

[David L. Chancey is pastor of Fayetteville’s McDonough Road Baptist Church. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park, and invites you to joint them for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org and like them on Facebook.]