My Musing – In English, the word love can be a bit ambiguous. I love chocolate. I love my mate. I love my child. Same word, different types/degrees of love. In this text, Paul chose one of the four Greek words that are all translated love in English. He used the word agape, which is a selfless, self-giving and unmerited love that God shows to humankind in sending his son as a suffering redeemer. (Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 14). San Francisco: Harper & Row.).
Selfless – “God demonstrates His own love for us.” Demonstrate means to show or express (a feeling or quality) by one’s actions. He was under no obligation to do so other than His character and being demanded it.
Self-giving – “Christ died for us.” It doesn’t get more self-giving than that. It doesn’t get more demonstrative than that.
Unmerited – “While we were still sinners.” Rebellious offenders (sinners) of what God demands (sinlessness) merit nothing but judgment. Yet God offers forgiveness. It was not if you do this (clean up your act) for me, then I will do this (offer forgiveness and salvation) for you. That would not be a demonstration of love, it would be a demonstration of justice. Through the sacrificial death of His Son, God found a way to simultaneously demonstrate both His “agape” love and His righteous justice in one act of grace. “You see, at just the right time [while we were still sinners?], when we were still powerless [unable to do anything to change our sinfulness], Christ died for the ungodly [deserving eternal separation from God].” (Romans 5:6, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Show our appreciation by accepting this free gift.
My Musings – Is it possible for us to cause God to do something against His will? Apparently it is. God “does not willingly bring affliction or grief.” But He does bring it on nonetheless. Why would He do something that He is not willing to do, that He does not have to do? It is motivated by “compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” The Father will discipline the children He loves, in order to bring correction and growth. If there were a gentler, less grief bringing way He would undoubtedly choose that way. But when there is no other way, He is compassionate and loving enough to
permit bring grief our way. When this was not enough, He took it upon Himself, through His only Son. For “it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10)” on our behalf in order to bring salvation to His creation. He was willing to do what He did not willingly want to do (say what?). Now that is love and compassion!
My Advice – We can rest assured, that in all these grief “things,” God will bring about good to those who also love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28). Are you feeling “affliction or grief?” Don’t ask why, as in why me? Ask why as in, what correction (repentance) is needed in my life? What do I need to learn from this? What growth is not otherwise possible without this? Don’t let the thing that God did not willingly want to do be wasted. Use it!
My Musings – Fear God? “The ‘fear of the Lord‘ is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Satisfied (p. 135). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books).
Keep His commandments? Not out of the fear, as we understand fear. But, as explained above, out of reverence, awe, and respect. Why wouldn’t we? Think of it this way. When we were little children, we obeyed our parents out of the fear we understand. Fear of the consequences if we did not. As we grew older and became adults we continued to do the things we were told when we were young, because we revere and respect them, and want to please them. We want to show our gratitude.
The duty of man? Not because it is compulsory, but because we are obliged (do as someone asks or desires in order to help or please them).
My Advice – Do your “duty.”