Advent: Love (John 3:16)

Turn on the radio at any time of day and you will undoubtedly hear songs about love. The problem, however, is that the “love” they sing about is actually lust. It is selfish music. It is music that has devolved into an obsession about how someone looks and about how someone makes you feel. It is selfish because once the object of love ceases to be desirable, they are discarded. Against this is God’s love. God’s love is not selfish, it is sacrificial. God’s love is not based on what you can do for me; it is based on what I can do for you. When the Bible speaks of love, it speaks of an intentional decision to love others on the basis of who they are, rather than on how they look or how they make you feel. Let us consider this further:

  1. Man’s Love is Selfish. Milton Vincent in A Gospel Primer aptly explains why man’s love is selfish: “I love myself supremely because I am the most worthy person I know to be loved and also because I think I can do a better job at it than anyone else.” He says there are two reasons for selfish love. The first is fear: “I fear that if I do not love myself there would be no one left to love me quite so well as I do.” The second is arrogance: “a lack of persuasion that there is someone out there who is worthy to be loved more than I.”
  2. Man’s Love does not Satisfy. In 1 John 2:15 we are told, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The reason for this command is given in verse 16: “all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” The love of the world is centered on lustful passions and selfish pride. Christians must refuse to be seduced by the selfish love of man because it is empty. Verse 17 concludes by saying, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” In other words, it is fleeting.
  3. God’s Love is Special. The only thing that can free us from the futility of selfish love is the gospel. Vincent writes that: “the gospel assures me that the love of God is infinitely superior to any love that I could ever give to myself (see John 15:13). Also, “the gospel reveals to me the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it lures my heart away from love of self and leaves me enthralled by Him instead.” The gospel is liberating and satisfying.
  4. God’s Love is Sacrificial. The reason God’s love is better than anything I could ever produce is because it is sacrificial. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 15:13, tells us “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Selfish love does not satisfy because we are not designed for self-satisfaction but to be a blessing to others. Only sacrificial love satisfies our design. Sacrificial love is only possible through Jesus.

Examine yourself: Do you regularly display selfish love or sacrificial love? Do you base your love on what others can do for you or on what you can do for others? If you are a Christian, have you lost your first love (Rev 2:4)? If you are not a Christian, you need to be saved. Admit that you are sinner and repent of your sin. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died to bring forgiveness for your sin. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Find true love that is sacrificial.