For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We find it easy to love people who are easy to love. In reality, we tend to like people who are like us. Furthermore, we assume that God’s love is bound by the same standards. If He loves us, we assume it must mean that we are not all that bad. Not only is this view false in every way, it destroys a deep appreciation for the amazing beauty of God’s love — that He loved the unlovely, and died for the unloving.
D. A. Carson illustrated the difference between our vision of love and God’s:
Charles and Susan are walking down the beach, hand in hand. They’ve kicked off their shoes and the wet sand squishes between their toes. Charles turns to Susan, gazes deeply into her large hazel eyes and says, “Susan, I love you; I really do.” What does he mean? If we assume he has decency and Christian virtue, the least he could mean is something like, “Susan, you mean everything to me. I can’t live without you. Your smile paralyzes me from fifty yards; your sparkling good humor, your beautiful eyes, the scent of your hair — everything about you transfixes me...I really love you.”
Or do his words I love you mean something like, “Susan, in spite of the fact that your nose is so large it belongs in cartoons, your hair has enough grease to lubricate an eighteen-wheeler, your knees make a camel look elegant, and your personality would scare Attila the Hun, I really love you.”
I’m guessing Charles meant the first one! Yet this is how human love differs from God’s love. When Romans 5:1 tells us that God “loved us,” it doesn’t mean that God looked down on us and said. “You mean everything to me. I can’t live without you: your personality, your witty conversation, your beauty, your smile — everything about you.”
Not a chance! When God says, “I love you,” He is saying, “Listen — your nose and greasy hair, your disjointed knees and selfish personality, your wretched sinfulness — all make you disgustingly unattractive to Me. But I love you because I have chosen to love you, through My Son, your Savior.”
My friend, if you think you deserve God’s love, even to the smallest degree, you will never feel totally secure in Him. You will live in perpetual fear that you might do something undeserving of His love and, if that is the case, then you definitely will!
Don’t be afraid. This is the amazing beauty of God’s love toward us, that “while we were still sinners, He died for us.” The truth is, there isn’t anything you can do that will ever change His mind. His love for you is the same yesterday, today...and forever!
Used by permission of wisdom for the heart.