Summary: In spite of all the ways we give, we can never be the greatest giver. That place is held by God alone.
She was born in 1910 and was one of the most highly respected women in the world. Her home was Macedonia, and she was of Albanian ancestry. In 1928, she went to Ireland to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some six weeks later, she was on her way to India as a teacher. She studied nursing and moved into the slums of Calcutta, India. It was the home of some of the most destitute people in the world. Here she founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation of women dedicated to giving to the poor. The order organized schools and opened centers to treat the blind, the aged, lepers, the disabled and the dying. Under her guidance, a leper colony called Town of Peace was built. She is internationally known for her charitable work among the victims of poverty and neglect, particularly in the slums of Calcutta, India. In 1968, Pope Paul VI called Mother Teresa to Rome to found a home there. In 1971, he awarded her the first Pope John XXIII peace prize. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel peace prize in recognition of her work in Calcutta. She was and is an example of one who gave her life to help others.
As much as Mother Teresa gave, she was not the greatest giver. God is. No amount of giving we might do can begin to compare with the giving God does. This one verse of scripture tells how much he has done on humanity’s behalf. Now it is up to individuals to do theirs.
I. GOD GIVES THE GREATEST LOVE
The verse begins by telling us God so loved. The kind of love God gives is agape' love, a love that gives and gives and does not require a response to keep on giving. It has the best interests of others at heart and will continue giving even when others spurn or reject it. It is a God-type love. Only as humans are in a relation with him can we experience and give this kind of love.
According to the Bible, love is the greatest gift we can receive and give to others. Paul writes; And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:13) This love is even greater than faith and hope. It is superior because it comes from God. If God did not show us love, faith and hope would be worthless.
Not only does God give the greatest love but he also expects his followers to show the same. To be a disciple of Jesus means to love in a unique way. Jesus said; A new command I give: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35) The command to love was only new in the sense that we now have an example in Jesus to demonstrate true and honest love to us. This was something those before his arrival did not have. We can now love in a new and refreshing way because we have the example of Jesus, God's Son who gives the greatest example of love.
God gives the greatest love, but it is our responsibility to accept it from him. He will not force himself upon us. It is a gift we must accept. When we do, we are responsible for giving this same love to others. They need to know this love just as we did. If you have accepted this greatest love, give it away to others.
II. GOD GIVES TO THE UNLOVELY
The verse continues by saying God so loved the world. The world is not the physical planet but the people who inhabit it. Now to be sure, God loves what he has made, but he loves the people he has made even more. He did not send his son to die for the planet but for the people he created.
God created the universe, and the psalmist reflects on the magnitude of God's creation. He also wondered at humanity's status in this created order. He writes; When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4) But God did care for those he created. We may pale in beauty to the created order, but God cares for us. He loved the unlovely and gave to them.
God loved the whole human race. He did not love just one particular race, religion or culture but the whole world. People of all races and nationalities can and do experience God’s love as he gives to the unlovely.