“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
An Insight from Forrest Gump
A quick scan of the internet will reveal that Americans spent close to $26 billion – that’s not a typo, $26 billion – on Valentine’s Day in 2023. Depending on who you read, the average American household spent between $100 and $200 each proclaiming our love to spouses and “significant others” last year. That’s quite an investment in love, yes? There’s a tremendous line in the 1994 movie “Forrest Gump” that surely resonates with all of us. “Forrest,” played by Tom Hanks, looks at worldly Jenny and says, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” Is this not true of each one of us? We don’t need a card or a bouquet to tell us what love is. Not many of us have anything approaching a genius-level IQ, but do we not all know, regardless of our age or station in life, what love is? And why do we all know this? Because God is love, and the entire storyline of the Bible is God’s unfolding plan of redemption . . . it is the story of God’s eternal LOVE for us!
Do you know what love is?
This love is unlike any other kind of love. God’s love is saving. God’s love is sacrificial. God’s love is supernatural. There is no better picture of this love than the example of our Lord JesusChrist, who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus was not speaking figuratively; He expressed His love for us in exactly that way: He willingly set aside the glories of heaven and entered our world to lay down His life so that we could have eternal life in Him.
Even many ardent unbelievers can recite our Lord’s words to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But they simply cannot comprehend the glorious truth expressed by the apostle Paul: “God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God knows what love is . . . Do we?
Here is something we must always remember regarding the love God has for those who are utterly undeserving of it: God’s love is ready, willing, and able to afflict both the One who is demonstrating the love and the One who is the object of His affection to work a greater good that could in no other way be accomplished.
Christian, you are to find great comfort in this truth! God does indeed love us just the way He found us – He left heaven and descended to us because we can’t ascend to Him. But our Lord loves us far too much to leave us in the condition in which He found us. God is at work, both in us and through us, to change us and conform us into the image of His beloved Son, and He will use whatever means necessary to complete the work He has begun in us. For He has promised His people that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Better than a box of chocolates
Regardless of where this message finds you, keep the wisdom of Forrest Gump in view and rejoice in the love your Savior has for you. God didn’t send you a box of chocolates; He sent His Son, who took the punishment for your sin. Jesus experienced the unimaginable horror of taking on the full wrath of God to have a personal relationship with YOU . . . forever and ever and ever. He took your condemnation. He took your scourging. He took your crown of thorns. He took your nine-inch nails. He took your cross. And He took your death. Why? Because He loves you enough to die for you.
Hebrews 13:20 speaks of “the blood of the eternal covenant.” Do you see the significance of that? God never “decided” to love you. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit never grudgingly agreed, “Oh, OK, I know (insert your name here) is going to sin a lot, but I suppose We can overlook all that.” There never was a time when God did NOT love you! He loved you before He breathed life into Adam! He has loved you for all eternity!
Committing Jeremiah 31:3 to memory will bring you great comfort on those days when you are feeling a bit unloved or unlovable: “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3). Jesus appeared some 2,000 years ago – He was born, He lived a perfect, sinless life, He died on the cross, and He was raised to life again – as proof positive of God’s everlasting love for you. No matter what difficulty you may be enduring right now, no matter what storms are looming on your horizon, those trials are not there because God does not love you. The historical fact that JesusChrist died on the cross is proof positive of that.
I’m not a smart man, but I know love when I see it, and “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.