There is something about the love of God that I will never fully understand.
God – who does not need us, whose happiness is not dependent upon us, whose joy in the fellowship of the Trinity is fully complete (and was for eternal ages before you and I were created), to whom we contribute nothing and to whom we cannot add even one ounce of joy – still loves us with an overwhelming love that simply will not cease. That is difficult to comprehend.
There is another mystery, also perplexing. It is something I will never fully understand about us. Unlike God, we are needy. We need God for every breath we take – for our life and for any hope of eternal joy. And in spite of that, we often do not love God. And it is this contrast between a completely sufficient God who loves unreservedly, and a wholly insufficient humanity that does not love, that I find myself perplexed.
But of course, the story does not end there.
For although we do not love God, His love towards us is transforming. 1 John 4:10 says, “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.” And with this redemptive love – this love that leads to our forgiveness – God has made us into lovers. 1 John 4:19 simply says, “We love because He first loved us.” That is the explanation of why anyone becomes both a lover of God – and a lover of others. God loved us first.
In the book of Ruth, we find a love story in the marriage between Boaz and Ruth. But, as most Bible readers have seen, this is much more than a simple love story. It is the story of how God has reached out to us, in love, and made us the people of love.
Both women in the story – Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth – are destitute widows, and they have been cared for by a wealthy, noble man named Boaz. Naomi plots to bring about a marriage between Ruth and Boaz to secure the futures of herself and Ruth.
But Boaz makes it plain that though he would marry Ruth (out of his love for her), this marriage would only happen if it was in submission to the revealed will of God found in the law. How strange that sounds to modern ears where romantic feelings trump everything else.
However, Boaz and Ruth would have seen matters differently. To violate the law of God for their own desires, they would have nothing left. No, they will not follow their own hearts, but they will follow God – for He is their first love. And that commitment will direct their hearts.
The way of love invites us to give ourselves away for the benefit of the other, and in so doing, we find ourselves. It invites us to gamble all that we have on the truths found in the Word of God. It is precisely what Jesus did – and consequently He has been given a name above every name. And if we, as His followers, dare to do the same, we will find that God can be trusted.
You see, that is what love is. It is sacrifice; it is surrender.
And it is this love that is the picture of God. God so loved the world that He gave His Son. And this is also the picture of true love when it is found among us. When we become submissive to the will of God – and to God Himself – we find that we can give our lives away and so find our lives in the end.
APPLICATION: Today, does your life bear the fruit of love – love that is rooted in God, first and foremost? Are we following Christ’s example in His love and submission to the will of the Father?
THE WAY OF LOVE INVITES US TO GIVE OURSELVES AWAY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE OTHER, AND IN SO DOING, WE FIND OURSELVES.
Dr. John Neufeld
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