For God So Loved the World

by | Dec 13, 2010 | Spirit-Led Living

John 3:16 is probably one of the most oft-quoted verses in
the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
(KJV). We often use it in conversations with those who are lost in order to
point the way to salvation. But at this time of year it takes on particular
significance even to those who are not lost, for it is a reminder that our
tradition of giving to others is a reflection of God’s generosity toward us. WE
give because HE gave.

However, there’s more to it than that. If we want our giving
to truly imitate that of the Father, we must have the same motivation He did.
“For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” We can never
approximate the magnitude of that gift, certainly, but we can give—whatever we
give—from a heart overflowing with His love.

The paramount nature of love struck me afresh several months
ago when the Holy Spirit arrested me during a church service with the question,
“If you knew in advance that today was going to be your last day on Earth, how
would you spend it?” Immediately my thoughts went to my family. I knew I would
want to spend whatever time I had left with them, making sure they know how
important they are to me and how much I love them.

Not long afterward, the Lord asked me a similar question:
“If the next time you see each person in your life turned out to be the last
encounter you have with that person, what is the impression you would want to
leave? How would you want him or her to remember you?”

Several scenarios came to mind. If I walked out the door of
my home in the morning and didn’t return at the end of the day, what would I
want my children and husband to remember as my last words and gestures? If I
ran into someone in the hall or the break room at work and then never saw him
or her again, what kind of memory would I want the person to retain? In each
last encounter, what would I want to be sure to say to my family, friends or
business associates—or even someone I might meet on the street?

These questions have continued to roll around in my spirit
from the moment the Lord first posed them to me. They are a constant reminder
that, like the man in the parable who planned to build bigger barns to store
all the grain he was amassing (see Luke 12:16-21), none of us knows how much time
is allotted to us, and we have to make the most of EACH moment God gives us to
fulfill the two commandments Jesus said were most important—loving God and
loving people. Nothing else matters. In fact, Paul says it makes no difference
what we give; if we don’t have love, “it profits [us] nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3,
NKJV).

Think about the implications of this truth. No matter how
much you give—even if you “bestow all [your] goods to feed the poor,” Paul
declares, “or give [your] body to be burned,” it will have no eternal benefit
(v. 3). Only what you do out of love will count.

Maybe now is the time, as you are going down your list of
people to buy for, to ask yourself: What is the motive behind my gift giving?
Is it simply an obligation for me? Am I trying to impress someone or gain
favor? Do I expect something in return? Or am I sincerely trying to express the
love of God to another person?”

If the motive isn’t love, pray for a change of heart. If it
is, take time to tell the person so. Write a quick note or say it verbally when
you deliver the gift. That is bound to mean more to him or her than what’s
inside the package. And it’s the only thing either one of you can take with you
into eternity.

PRAYER POWER WEEK OF 12/13/2010

Thank God for His wondrous love, expressed through the
giving of His Son, Jesus.  Pray for
open hearts all over the world to receive this gift of love. Ask the Lord to
give you opportunities to share His love and provision with those who have lost
homes, jobs and loved ones this year.  Continue to pray for the persecuted church, and the
protection of Israel along with our troops and their families.  As you pray for our own nation, ask God
to protect and direct our president, bring unity among those holding to
biblical principles in our legislature, and establish righteousness in our
judicial system.  I John 4:7-21;
Luke 2:8-14

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