We throw around the word "love" a lot. We love pizza. We love our sports teams. We love our families. We love God. I'm pretty sure most of us love our families and God more than we love pizza, yet the English language makes no distinction between the two. We use the same word for both. Because of that, I think we sometimes miss the boat on how much God loves us. We hear the words, "God loves you," and we think, "That's nice," and go on with our day. It's not just "nice" that God loves us. It's amazing. It's awe-inspiring. It's unbelievable. It's humbling. The God who created the universe loves us simply because we exist. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place. The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin (disobeying God) is death (being separated from God forever). God loves us and wants us to be near Him so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son to make that happen.
There's no word in our language that can describe that kind of love. It's nearly too big for us to wrap our little human brains around. Yet, too many times, we turn our backs on that love or we fail to appreciate it. God asks us to draw near to Him because He loves us, yet many times we choose to walk alone. He asks us to follow His commands because He loves us, but we often turn away to follow our own path. He asks us to join Him in His work, yet we get too caught up in our own work.
God's love is a lot of things that human love is not. It is unfailing, never-ending, unconditional and all-encompassing. It fills us up and comforts us. It allows Him to rejoice with us and wrap us in His loving arms when things go wrong. Psalm 86:15 says, "But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." God is abounding in this love. That means He has more than enough to go around -- enough for all of us.
We're going to hear a lot about love in the next week. Valentine's Day is coming, and we will become persuaded that true love is expressed with candy and flowers. We'll measure love by what we get and how it is expressed by others. Take advantage of these "Valentine's moments" and help your kids understand the difference between God's love and human love.
- Ask your kids to give you a list of ways that we show love to each other. Read John 3:16 with your kids. Ask them how God showed His love for us. Compare that to how we show love to each other. Ask your kids which type of love they think is greater.
- Make a list with your kids of things that they "love." Talk about how the word "love" sometimes means "really like." Explain that we don't want to confuse our love for pizza with how God loves us. Talk about how God's love is so much more than any words can describe. Use 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide for what God's love looks like.
- Place some candy hearts in a dish on the table. Have each child grab a handful. For each heart, your child chose, have him list one way he knows that God loves him.
It's easy to forget that God's love is so much bigger, so much stronger and so much better than any other kind of love. Use the next week to remind your family that God's love is everything we'll ever need.
Join us all week as we talk about God's love, and how you can create "Valentine's moments" with your kids that help them understand God's love.