“God is love” (1 John 4:8). What a beautiful truth for sinners who wonder if God can forgive them. What a bonfire of comfort for the Christian walking in death’s cold shadow. It’s true: God’s love is his essence.
But what does that love look like when you’re giving in to temptation—having sex before marriage or cheating at school or lingering over bad websites or drinking too much? You might find yourself thinking, “So I’m a little messed up, no biggie. God is a God of love, not judgment!”
Does God’s love look like a benevolent wink? Verse 10 of this same chapter gives us context. It says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
God’s love looked on humanity and judged us. We’re not a little messed up. We’re desperate, lost, hell-bound sinners, each of us chasing after what is best for “me.” God’s essence is love, yes. But it is also holiness. Holiness and sin cannot coexist peacefully any more than fire and paper. Sin must burn. What does God’s love look like in the face of our sin? It’s not a chummy wink. It’s a public execution. It’s God’s dear Son being punished in our place.
Lord, when I’m tempted to think of your love as a free pass, draw me back to your cross. Show me there how big my sin is. Show me there how much bigger is your love. Amen.