The year 2020 is coming to an end. We do not know what 2021 will bring, but we do know that there are only 11 more days of 2020. To what shall we compare 2020? How can we speak of this year? 2020 is like the ‘New Coke’ or ‘Crystal Pepsi’ of Soft Drinks. We thought it was going to be good, but it got bad in a hurry. 2020 is like hearing you won a new Ford and finding out it’s a Pinto. It’s like going to a house on Halloween to trick or treat and they give you a toothbrush. 2020 may go down in history as the best thing since the solar powered flashlight. If 2020 was a sermon, it would teach us how our faith in God can be tested through different trials and tribulations. Whatever you think of 2020, spend what is left of it by giving praise and glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus gives us hope and our hope is based on Jesus’ faithfulness. Jesus gives us peace and our peace is because we have been reconciled to God. Jesus gives us joy and our joy is not dependent upon what is happening, but on our identity as Christians. This morning we shall learn that Jesus is love and His love is not like the world’s love but is showered upon us by His grace and mercy.
The World’s Love is Selfish
Worldly love is selfish. 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.” Why are we told not to love the world? It is because “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” (1 John 2:16). We are not to love the world because if we love the world, we will love like the world. This is bad because the world’s love is selfish (desires and pride). Milton Vincent in A Gospel Primer explains why worldly 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.” This selfish love is abhorred by God.
Worldly love is centered on lustful passions and selfish pride. Christians must refuse to be seduced by the selfish love of man because it is vain and leads to destruction. 1 John 2:17 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. 1 John 3:17 says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” Worldly love is ungodly. 1 John 3:10 says, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
Worldly love is not from God. 1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” The habitual practice of selfish love is an indication that you may not truly be a Christian. Christians cannot pursue selfish love or hate one another and have confidence that we have truly passed from death into life. The love of God is not selfish, but sacrificial.
God’s Love is Sacrificial
God’s love is better. 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 based on what is best for them rather than on how they look or how they make you feel. The only thing that can free us from the futility of selfish love is the gospel. Milton Vincent wrote 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.
God’s love is better 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.
God’s love must be our love. Our love for others must be based on God’s love and must not be selfish, but sacrificial. 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” John also wrote, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Propitiation means that Jesus provided the sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God against us for our sin. Jesus’ sacrificial love is why we are justified and saved. “Having been justified by faith, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). 1 John 4:17-18 says, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” When we love God, we will also love like God.
God’s Love in Us
Yes, 2020 has not gone the way we thought it would. We have had to endure difficult times, but God has always proved faithful. Let us take time this Advent season to examine ourselves. 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 a 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.