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"We love him, because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
It's easy to be fond of nice people. It's natural to see virtue in one's own flesh and blood. However, to love an outsider who is rebellious and obnoxious is neither easy nor natural. The ability to possess genuine, unselfish regard for completely unlovely people is rare in this world. In fact, it is an impossibility apart from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the light of this, God's love for mankind is certainly amazing beyond degree. Knowing exactly how wicked human beings would become--how they would lie, steal, be immoral, and manifest hateful and unkind attitudes--He still loved us so much He gave His only Son for our salvation. He loved us from before the foundation of the world, and He loves us still -- even though there is nothing in us to draw His favor.
Let me tell you a story which made a deep impression on me when I first heard it years ago. A mother was sewing while her little girl was busily occupied with her dolls and toys. After some time the little girl came to her busy parent and wanted to be loved and caressed. "Why do you want me to hold you?" asked the mother. The little girl lisped, "'cause I love you." "What about your dolls and your toys, don't you love them too?" said her mother teasingly. 'The little girl gave this amazing reply, "Yes, but I love you more. I guess it's 'cause you loved me when I was too small to love you back!" Tears welled up in the mother's eyes as she contemplated God's great compassion for us, His children. The apostle John summarized this truth in that brief but wonderful sentence: "We love him, because he first loved us!" Yes, if God had not taken the initiative, we would have no inclination to seek Him, and so would have perished eternally. Let each one of us who knows the Lord, meditate on that thought with heartfelt gratitude.
Louis Abel is pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Chiefland.