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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
There’s a powerful scene near the end of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, in which Tom Hanks’ character, Captain John Miller, has been fatally wounded on the battlefield having sacrificed his life for the elusive Private Ryan (Matt Damon) whom he had been sent on a mission to save. As Ryan looks down at this man who had sacrificed everything to bring him home, the Captain whispers two final, haunting words to him: “Earn this.”
You see, Captain Miller wasn’t the only one to have died in search of Private Ryan. A number of other soldiers from his company had been killed on the rescue mission to save one man, and the Captain wanted to make sure their deaths weren’t in vain—that their sacrifices were worth the tremendous cost to them, their families, and their country.
Now, imagine a major twist in this plot: What if Captain Miller had voluntarily given his life to save someone from the enemy’s camp and said, “You don’t need to earn this. Just accept my sacrifice for you”?
No one would imagine him doing that for a sworn enemy, yet that’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross for both you and I. Before we knew Christ as our Savior, the Bible says we were enemies of God (Colossians 1:21). Yet as today’s verse points out, Jesus died for us while we were still in our sin. And there is absolutely nothing that we can do to earn His forgiveness and love; it is purely a gift from God (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7).
That’s the incredible nature of the Father’s love for us.
The beauty of the cross is that it demonstrates in the most tangible way that love isn’t contingent upon reciprocation. Jesus’ love was completely sacrificial in nature and not one bit dependent upon whether or not we would accept Him for it. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love isn’t self-seeking, and nothing conveys that truth more powerfully than the cross of Christ.
If you question God’s love for you or have trouble accepting it at times, remember this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NKJV). Jesus not only laid His life down for His friends, but also His enemies!
That’s true love in action.
DIG: Think back to a time before you were saved or when you felt distant from the Lord. Did you sense His love then? Do you feel it now? Either way, you can know His love for you is limitless and unchanging by embracing the sacrifice Jesus made for you on the cross.
DISCOVER: Have you ever sacrificed yourself for someone else—a child, a spouse, a family member, or friend? What feelings did it evoke in you? How do you think it reflects God’s own heart for you?
DISPLAY: As you embrace God’s unconditional love for you, ask Him to help you extend that same love to others, even those you don’t know or consider hostile to you.
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Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.