A Gift Beyond Comprehension

3-20-2013 8-45-52 AM

God loves you with a love that defies human understanding. The apostle Paul prayed that the Christian believers of ancient Ephesus might know the love of Christ, which, he said, far exceeds human understanding:

That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and the height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Frankly, this request fascinates me. How can you “know” something that far surpasses your ability to comprehend it? Paul gives us a clue through the word translated “know” (ginosko), which in the original language means, “to know by experience.” You can “know” this love only by experiencing it for yourself. You cannot “know” it by having someone tell you about it. You have to experience it for yourself to fully appreciate the depth of God’s love for you. 

So Paul prayed something like this: “Because God loves you so much, I pray that you might know the depth of God’s love for you—the length of God’s love—the height of God’s love. If you could only fathom the depth to which Jesus was willing to come in order to redeem you! If you could only explore the height to which God intends to bring you, that He might seat you together with Christ in heavenly places and make you a joint heir with Him in His eternal kingdom! If only you could see the length to which God is willing to go to save you.”

The broadness of God’s love encompasses all of humankind, every race, tribe, and nation. It reaches to all men and women, boys and girls. No one lies outside of the boundaries of God’s love. Best of all, His love for you—its breadth, its length, its height, its depth—will last forever.

That is why some fifty times in the Bible we read, “His mercy [or love] endures forever.”

God most clearly manifested the depth of His love for you on the cross. Jesus, who eternally existed in the form of God, emptied Himself and came to earth in the likeness of man. As a servant, He remained obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. That’s how deep the love of God is for you. Jesus willingly died in your place.

When God sent Jesus to earth, He gave us His very best. That’s the crowning characteristic of love—it wants to give its best. Suppose I found a bouquet of wilted flowers in a dumpster, pulled them out of the trash, arranged them haphazardly, and finally took them home to my wife. Would you be impressed? Probably not—and neither would Kay. Nor would it help my cause much to say, “I love you, dear. See? Here are some wilted flowers.”

While I’ve never given Kay flowers extracted from a dumpster, many times after a funeral I have had the opportunity to take her some gorgeous bouquets. People leave them at the church and say, “Do with them what you want.” A few times I have brought home some hundred-dollar bouquets, filled with orchids and other gorgeous and even exotic flowers. And do you know what she says to me?

“Did you have a funeral today?”

Because I got them for free—though they cost someone a bundle—the gesture didn’t mean much to her. It certainly didn’t mean as much to her as if I had stopped to pick up a small bunch of carnations at a little corner stand run by some enterprising kids.

True love wants to show itself through extravagant giving—and God sought to show you the magnitude of His love by giving you His best. It cost God tremendously to show you the depth of His love. In fact, we will never be able to comprehend how much He gave when He sent us His only begotten Son, Jesus. Such an extravagant gift proves how much He cares for you.

 

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