“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
John 3:16 (TLB Paraphrased)
The one-word summary of the message of the entire Bible (sixty-six books in all) is LOVE. The only string connecting God the Creator of all things and beings, with His creation is LOVE. It is obvious that the Creator, for well-known reasons, would have completely done away with His creation – especially humans who happen to be the crown of all of His creation, the only one made in God’s image. But LOVE has kept humans and other creatures in existence. Love has kept both the righteous and the wicked alive. When individuals, families, nations, and generations rebel against God and still enjoy His mercies of air, sunlight, water, sleep, and protection from disasters, we must conclude that only LOVE can do this. Only love stands between a man and the heart of God for humanity to continue in existence. God’s love for man is the only explanation that we commit the worst evil against God and His creation and still have a hope of eating the food of God’s (BEST) land (Isaiah 1;18-19).
Love has been defined as “the desire to benefit others even at the expense of self because love desires to give”. The depth of love is expressed by the degree of giving. The degree of giving is not necessarily the volume but the quality. Abel loved God and gave his best. The widow in the Bible gave her all which was in volume less than what virtually others gave but was recorded be of greater quality.
Our God kick-started it all by giving His best – HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON for the redemption of humankind. The deepest love evokes the costliest sacrifice. And this is the foundation God has laid for us – that, he who loves gives sacrificially to the one he loves. Children of God are enjoined several times in God’s word to love God; love one another in the household of faith; love our neighbours (as ourselves); our fellow humans; and even (to) love our enemies. To all these, the quality of our love is expected to be sacrificial and unbiased.
“…God is love and He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him”. 1John 4:16b
God is love. In loving, we are simply manifesting God. The only evidence and the true evidence that God is in us is the demonstration of the love of God through our lives. Out of the abundance of our inner content of God, our outer manifestation of love will flourish.
The world needs our love today. All around us, the bared fingers of Satan and hell are affecting mankind. There are deafening cries of pain and agony from the sufferings of the people of the earth. Worse still, there is palpable chilling fear of the imminent doom of eternity in hell in the hearts and souls of many. Only the love of God expressed through the hearts of God’s children can help and save mankind.
“Knowing the terror of God, we persuade men”.
We are compelled by love for the souls of humans that we can make any sacrifice possible to save many from damnation. The central tool is the gospel of salvation. To present this gospel – “the power of God unto salvation,” several methods are adopted. One preaches to another at home, in transit, in offices, through mass and social media, gospel tracts, magazines, and books. Big crusades are organized and much money is expended in some cases. Medical and social services missions, costly in themselves, are also methods with proven good results. All these aim at saving souls.
What of providing the earthly needs of people? “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1John 3: 17.
While wealth has increased on earth today, surprisingly a great percentage of persons are falling below the poverty line. The present world economic and political systems promote a few to the upper class, destroy the middle class and push more down to the lower class. The consequence is that greater numbers of persons are finding it difficult to meet the traditional basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter as well as the fourth need of education. This is poverty.
Since the poor look up to God for help, the children of God are His agents to feed the poor and the fatherless in their afflictions. And God seriously charges His children stating clearly that meeting the needs of the poor and needy ranks higher than performing miracles as obedient service to God. However, showing this great love to both the unsaved and poor for their salvation and provision is increasingly becoming a GREAT SACRIFICE.
The saved need both time and resources to reach the unsaved. Every effort to preach and reach out is made at great cost (NOW) in our world where people’s time and income are increasingly NOT ENOUGH. For one to go as a full-time pastor or missionary one literally compromises not only one’s own life but also those of his children and future. It is a great sacrifice.
Even to preach on a part-time basis demands foregoing other demands of time.
How many tell neighbours in offices, buses, aeroplanes, about Christ?
How many can carry and hand out tracts and gospel materials?
Job, business, ego etc. all fight. A sacrifice of personal “honour” is often needed.
Funds-wise, there is no gainsaying many are living on the brink of lack. Even high-income earners these days have higher demands on their incomes – from education, dependants (that increase as income increases), etc. Sacrifice it is to sponsor gospel tract printing, free medical missions, church outreaches, mission agencies, and missionaries.
In the Africa Vision Tract House Society, AVTHS, we know that it is really out of great sacrifice that many brethren support our Gospel Tract publications and distribution across Africa. Our Medical missions and services are completely free for all beneficiaries. But they are all at great cost to those who provide the funds and those who volunteer their time and comfort to go. More so, it is at a very great cost to those who have jeopardized and compromised their lives and those of family members to answer the call to be fully involved.
Obeying God, leading our neighbours to Christ, and meeting the needs of the poor demand sacrifice anchored on divine agape love. They demand the sacrifice of love.
POLYCARP A. MBAH