Yesterday’s Scripture led me to today’s Scripture. I love how the Lord does that! Yesterday I wrote about where we need to keep our focus. “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:1-2)
When I wrote about about the passage above in my journal, another Scripture was pre-printed on the same page. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17)
First of all, this is written to those who have come by faith alone to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That’s the only way that we as sinful man have any comfort and hope, given by grace by the Lord. And this grace is only given when we understand how sinful we are, and that we need a Savior in order to bridge the enmity between ourselves and God the Father. “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, but it is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:21-23).
God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love. Our innermost beings are so corrupted by sin that even we don’t realize the extent to which sin has tainted us. In our natural state, we do not seek God; we do not love God; we do not desire God. “There is no righteous person, not even one; There is no one who understands, There is no one who seeks out God; They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, There is not even one.” (Rom 3:10-12)
Since it is God’s essential nature to love, He demonstrates His love by lavishing it on undeserving people who are in rebellion against Him. God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental, romantic feeling. Rather, it is agape love, the love of self-sacrifice. He demonstrates this sacrificial love by sending His Son to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin (1 Jn 4:10), by drawing us to Himself (John 6:44), by forgiving us of our rebellion against Him, and by sending His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, thereby enabling us to love as He loves. He did this in spite of the fact that we did not deserve it.
God doesn’t just love; He is love. “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8) His nature and essence are love. Love permeates His very being and infuses all His other attributes, even His wrath and anger. Because God’s very nature is love, He must demonstrate love, just as He must demonstrate all His attributes because doing so glorifies Him. Glorifying God is the highest, the best, and the most noble of all acts, so, naturally, glorifying Himself is what He must do, because He is the highest and the best, and He deserves all glory. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)
God’s love is personal. He knows each of us individually and loves us personally. His is a mighty love that has no beginning and no end. It is this experiencing of God’s love that distinguishes Christianity (which is a relationship with the Lord) from religions. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:9). But if we choose not to accept His invitation, we are destined for His judgment.
God bestows on us who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior comfort that outlasts this life and extends for eternity, and He did so because of His love. He also gives us the hope of a bright future, and He imparted it by grace—His undeserved favor. No matter the persecution or trials on this earth can’t dim the good hope God bestows on us. Possessing God’s strength and comfort enables us to live out our faith in words and deeds that honor Him.
As Christ followers, we have His power to confront trouble with bold confidence in God and to encourage one another by speaking helpful words and performing kind and loving deeds. In another epistle Paul exhorted his readers to “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29) Paul also urged us to walk in love, having Christ as our example (Eph 5:2). Deriving our strength and encouragement from God, we can talk and walk in a way that pleases Him.
With this in mind, let us pray to the Lord “who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, [to] comfort and strengthen our hearts in every good work and word.” (2 Thess 2:16-17) Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing love and for Your encouragement as we come to know You better and better. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.