How important is it that we understand the love of God? Consider Paul’s prayer for the saints as you contemplate your answer.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-18).
From this reading you will see that Paul speaks of God’s love in four dimensions – width, length, depth, and height. But, how can one begin to quantify the love of God? It is immeasurable. Was Paul simply speaking figuratively, or is there a greater lesson to be gleaned from his prayer?
I am not sure that this is what Paul had in mind when he spoke of God’s love, but it is fascinating to compare this passage with John 3:16. Herein we find the width of God’s love – the world. We also find the length of God’s love in that He gave His Son. We will also find the depth of God’s love in providing salvation to the perishing. And lastly, we find the height of God’s love – everlasting life.
The Width of God’s Love – God so loved the world
God’s love is all-encompassing. God loves every man, woman, boy, and girl. Whoever you are and wherever you may be, you are a beneficiary of the love of God. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent (2 Peter 3:9). By the grace of God, our Lord Jesus tasted (experienced) death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
The Bible teaches us that God loves every person and desires for “all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus gave Himself as a “ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). “God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Therefore, we must preach the gospel to “all nations” and “every creature” so that the lost far and wide might learn of the love God has for them.
The Length of God’s Love – That He gave His only begotten Son
To what length would God go to demonstrate His love for us? What could God possibly give to demonstrate His love for mankind? The answer: His only begotten Son.
Deity took on the form of man and was clothed in flesh for the purpose of revealing the love of God for man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten, full of grace and truth.”
God demonstrated His love for us in the giving of His son, His only Son – Jesus. While it is true that our acceptance of Jesus will spare us from the wrath of God, it is also true that by accepting Jesus we are accepting the love of God. In fact, the primary attribute of God revealed in the Scriptures is not His wrath, but His love. God did not send Jesus into this world to demonstrate His wrath, “but that the world through Him might be saved.” And thus, “while we were yet sinners” God demonstrated His matchless love for us that we might be saved through the sacrificial death of His only begotten Son.
The Depth of God’s Love – That whosoever believes in Him should not perish
The love of God reaches down into the depths of sin and human depravity to rescue a soul from death. Those who are well do not need the treatment and care of the Great Physician, but those who are sick – sin sick. He did not come to call “the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He came “to seek and to save the lost.”
Some of us were at rock bottom when our Savior found us. Truly, “such were some of you.” “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The Height of God’s Love – But have everlasting life
The height of God’s love for us is yet to come; but truly it fills our hearts with hope and anticipation. Realizing that God’s love is sure and steadfast and stretches all the way to heaven and throughout eternity; may we never “cast off” His love as though we do not need it! May we never cast off His love because we do not deserve it! Deserving has nothing to do with it. Salvation has been brought down, not because man deserved to be saved, but because “God so loved.”
May we never cast off this great love because we desire the things of the world greater than the things of God! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How can such knowledge and comprehension of the love of God bring us into “the fullness of God” as Paul has prayed?
In the first place, every experience of the Christian life must begin at the cross. The cross must be fixed within our hearts in order for us to live by the love of God and to appreciate its dimensions.
What does the cross mean to you? Are you willing to live for Jesus because of the cross? Or, are you willing to let Him die in vain? None can truthfully say that they love the Lord while letting Him die in vain.
In the second place, our comprehension of the love of God must cause us to project the Father to the world, not the world to the Father. Philip asked Jesus, “Show us the Father…” The world is asking that same thing of us – “Show us the Father.” We can show the Father to the world by showing His love and His truth as the Christ has revealed.
Lastly, the love of God can bring us into the fullness of God through a “peace that passes understanding.” Knowing the fullness of God’s love brings security to the heart of the believer. He will not leave us or forsake us. God is with us. He is our Father who loves us and cares for us. God is not our enemy, but our friend. Let us also determine to live as a friend of God.