By this point, I think you are getting the motivation down for radical, sacrificial love down but we can see yet one more reason in Ephesians 5:1 and 2 we should be loving people and that is because we are prized people.
And prized people.
It is almost as if it is not enough to say that we are loved, because this text magnifies the care God has for us even bigger than that when it says at the end of verse 2 that Jesus Christ gave Himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Now of course these terms describe Christ’s death on the cross as being a kind of sacrifice to God; but the term that stands out to me is that the offering and sacrifice was fragrant to God.
Literally sweet smelling.
It means that Christ’s death pleased God the Father.
This of course is something that Isaiah said would happen in Isaiah 53:10.
But have you ever thought how is it that something so awful as Christ’s crucifixion could please the Father?
The ultimate reason it was pleasing to the Father was because of Christ, his perfection, his holy submission to God’s will; another reason was because it accomplished perfectly God’s great plan to rescue us, to make His name great by rescuing us.
But I don’t know, I guess it really puts things in perspective when you realize the cross was not a train smash for God; but on that horrifying day God was able to take pleasure in His Son dying because it accomplished His great design which was the salvation of people like us. It’s not that God the Father took delight in the actual death of Jesus as in what the death accomplished, how it glorified His righteous hatred of sin and saved the people He loved.
It is sometimes hard to think of God prizing us like this.
But the Bible makes it clear that He does! There’s even a passage in the Old Testament which speaks of God singing, over who? Over His chosen people. Can you imagine God singing, can you imagine God singing over people like us?
You need to imagine it. You need to believe it.
Believing that is a chief part of what it means to believe the gospel. That’s part of what Christ’s death on the cross, this sacrifice and offering that He made unto God is intended to teach us.
The cross persuades us that God loves us.
“God has accepted us for Christ’s sake. But He wants to go further. He intends to persuade us that He does accept us for Christ’s sake. So He demonstrates, by adequate proof, His love to us. When I look at the cross, I learn to say, ‘The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). I begin to believe with Paul that if God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up to the cross for me, then He loves me so much He will always give me only what will bring me blessing (Romans 8:32).
Such conviction is a key point in Christian growth. If we have deep-seated fears that God does not really love us (as many Christians have), we can only go so far in growing nearer to God. There will come a point at which we will fear to trust Him any further because we cannot be sure of His love. When we look at ourselves, or our own faith, or our circumstances we will never be free from those lurking fears. Satan will see to that. But when we lift up our eyes and look on the cross we find the final persuasion that God is gracious towards us. How can He be against us when all His wrath against us fell upon Christ? How can He fail to care for us when He gave the only Son He had for our sake? How can we doubt Him when He has given us evidence of His love sufficient to banish all doubts?”
You are forgiven, adopted, loved and prized, the cross proves it and when you believe that God has loved you like this, the one thing it should never do is cause you to exult in yourself, in your greatness, no what this should do is cause you to be amazed by the grace and mercy and kindness of God, and it is so important you are, I challenge you, don’t stop until you are amazed by that, cry out to God if you are not, say God something is wrong with my heart, help me believe this, because when you believe that, you know what it must do in you, it must make you a loving people, people who are quick to forgive and quick to sacrifice for others.