1 John 4:10 says this: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
I absolutely love this verse! Let me tell you why! According to this verse, God loved you so much that He had to express it! God needed to do more than just say He loved you, His love compelled Him to take action! This my friends is what the Bible defines “real love!”
Let me try and put this into some terms that may help us understand the magnitude of God’s love. Most of us deal with three types of emotions when it comes to how we relate to those around us who are in need of love. First we have pity. I would describe pity as the feeling we get when we see someone such as a drug addict, alcoholic, or someone who stands on the side of the road asking for money. We feel sorry for them but there’s a bit of judgement hidden underneath the surface of our hearts. We secretly have thoughts like, “They could just do better or try harder. Why do they chose to live like that?”
Next up, we have sympathy. Now sympathy is seeing someone and being able to understand their feelings. It doesn’t necessarily move you to take action, it just stirs emotions up inside of you that allow you to be able to relate. An example for me would be seeing someone struggling with infertility. I would hurt emotionally for them because I know what that feels like. For you, it could be something different.
Lastly, we have Compassion. Compassion is so intense that it causes you to take action! Compassion is an emotion that MUST find a way to be demonstrated.
When God looked at the mess humanity was in, or to make it more personal, when He looks at the mess you and I are in, He doesn’t wag His head and say, “Poor things, look at them. I feel so sorry for them, but they could do better. I think they could try harder. If they’d just work a little more at being faithful, I could help them.” Oh my friends, no, no, no. God was so moved with compassion when He looked at us, along with all of humanity, and He was compelled to not just say He loves us, but to DEMONSTRATE His love to us:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV
He demonstrated His love for you while you were still sinning! WHILE YOU WERE STILL SINNING! When we see God’s love expressed so extravagantly, we have the opportunity to believe and receive His free gift of salvation. But amazingly and for some unknown reason, we feel like that after we receive God’s love, grace, and mercy, we must now have it all together! We’d never say this out loud, but we basically have two categories for grace: before salvation and after salvation.
Oh how I wish I could grab your hand as I say these next few sentences. God’s Grace, mercy, and love does not weaken after we say “yes” to being His. Rather, in the midst of our failures, God invites us to boldly run into His throne room: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need and there you will find mercy.” Did you catch that? It’s literally called the Throne of Grace and we go there boldly so that we may obtain obtain mercy. (Hebrews 4:16)
God never expected you to try to perform for His love, before or after salvation. If He loved you before you chose Him, how much more now that you are His child, His heir. Take a deep breath...release it...now, just pause a second here. God wants this to be settled deep in our hearts: quit trying to perform. Jesus’s performance was and forever will be enough to give us a right standing before God.