God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
Continuing to talk about love, people often wrestle with how to define love. What is love? We know what it looks like and how it behaves from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, but how do we define it? As with any good and positive character trait, we must define love based on the character of God. This is especially true when we talk about love because scripture tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is not just the source of love or filled with love--God is love. God is love personified. He is the very definition of love. Thus, if we are going to truly love people, if we are truly going to love our neighbor, our friends, our spouse, our children, we need to try and understand the love of God. In Romans 5:8 scripture says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” “While we were still sinners,” we are told. To be clear about what it means to be a sinner in the eyes of God, a few verses later we read, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (5:10, emphasis added). “Enemies” of God is what it means to be sinners. This is because, as Anselm once rightly stated, most Christians “have not considered just how grievous a thing sin is in the eyes of God.” Each time we sin, regardless of what the sin is, we are shaking our fist at God shouting, ‘I don’t care about your holiness or about your laws!’ All sin, as RC Sproul once stated, “is cosmic treason against God.” And yet, we are told that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners [while we were enemies of God], Christ died for us.” So here is a definition of love based on the manner in which God loves us--love is wanting and doing what is best for someone else regardless of personal cost. God does not owe us anything. We don’t deserve to be saved and have our sins forgiven. Yet, we needed to be saved and have our sins forgiven; thus, God did what was best for us regardless of personal cost. What did it cost him? —the death of his son. This is what love looks like, and this is how we should love God and love our neighbors.
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