“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
The image of the cross brings several words to mind, doesn’t it? Sacrifice, suffering, salvation, grace, gratitude, forgiveness, eternal life, and love are all common word associations. And yet out of these words, is it possible that there is one word that serves as the foundation for all of the rest?
John 3:16 reminds us that, yes, there is a foundational word, an action that served as a basis for Christ’s sacrifice and suffering to bring about salvation…it is LOVE. It is always fitting to take a moment to reflect on the magnitude of God’s love for us and how we can strive to be imitators of Christ’s love to those around us.
Did you know that in the Greek language there are several different words for love? In the passage of John 3:16, the word agape is the word used to describe God’s ultimate love for the world. So what exactly does agape mean?
According to an etymology summary, agape is:
- The noblest word for love in Scripture
- A part of God’s nature (meaning nothing we can do can spur on this love)
- Continues even when the recipient is “unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy.”
Doesn’t that last one go straight to the heart? How many times do we find ourselves unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy? Over and over again, right? The hope that we have is in God’s love for us…it’s found in the beauty of the redemptive work of the Gospel.
“If we want proof of God’s love for us, then we must look first at the Cross where God offered up His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.” Jerry Bridges
CALL TO ACTION
First of all, share the Good News with your children! Do they know that the cross serves as a reminder that they are the recipients of Christ’s magnificent love? Secondly, keep Matthew 22:39 close to your heart. Who is your neighbor? When was the last time you took a moment to ask yourself “Am I truly loving others the way I should be?” Also, consider: what are ways that you can help your children to recognize the needs of others? How can you act on those needs as a family? What are the love languages of those nearest to you? Are you taking the time to be intentional in the way that you show your love?
We can never match the ultimate and sacrificial love that Christ demonstrated for us; but that shouldn’t prevent us from teaching our children that we can and should be bearers of Christ-like love!