May 2 – Jesus on God’s Love: To Show Our Sonship

… so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.—Matt. 5:45

God Himself is love, and the best evidence that we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ is our love for other believers. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35; cf. 1 John 4:20). Our divine sonship is further evidenced when love leads us to pray for our opponents.

Even though the world often has a faulty understanding of what the gospel is, it knows enough about Christ and His teachings to see that believers do not obey all His commands or live consistently as He lived. People in the world who are the furthest from saving faith nevertheless often sense the divine power that underlies the loving and caring Christian life—simply because such a life that goes far enough to love enemies is so uncharacteristic of human nature.

In this way we show our family likeness, an increasing resemblance to our heavenly Father. For example, God provides His general blessings on everyone, with no respect for merit or deserving; otherwise no one could receive them. The psalmist writes, “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15–16). If God is so generous, we who claim to know Him ought to show similar love and impartial concern for everyone, even those who don’t like us.

ASK YOURSELF
Though God does possess qualities we can never attain as mortals, He has given us—by virtue of our adoption into His family—the privilege of looking more like Him in our attitudes and behaviors. Why is pursuing this so important?[1]

Manifest Your Sonship

in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (5:45)

To love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors shows that we are sons of [our] Father who is in heaven. The aorist tense of genēsthe (may be) indicates a once and for all established fact. God Himself is love, and the greatest evidence of our divine sonship through Jesus Christ is our love. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). In fact, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20).

Loving as God loves does not make us sons of the Father, but gives evidence that we already are His children. When a life reflects God’s nature it proves that life now possesses His nature by the new birth.

One of the commonest and most damaging criticisms of Christianity is the charge that Christians do not live up to their faith. Even though the world has a limited and often distorted idea of what the gospel is, they know enough about the teachings of Christ and the life of Christ to realize that most people who go by His name do not do all that He commanded and do not live as He lived.

But even a person who has never heard of Christ or the teachings of the New Testament would suspect there is divine power behind a life that loves and cares even to the point of loving enemies-simply because such a life is so utterly uncharacteristic of human nature. A life of self-giving love gives evidence of sonship of the Father who is in heaven. That phrase emphasizes the heavenly realm in which the Lord dwells, the realm that is the source of this kind of love.

Those who are God’s children should show impartial love and care similar to what God shows. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Those blessings are given without respect to merit or deserving. If they were, no one would receive them. In what theologians traditionally have called common grace, God is indiscriminate in His benevolence. His divine love and providence in some forms benefit everyone, even those who rebel against Him or deny His existence.

An old rabbinic saying tells of the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea. As the story goes, when the Egyptians were destroyed the angels began to rejoice; but God lifted up His hand and said, “The work of My hands are sunk in the sea and you would sing?” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [rev. ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 1:176).

“The eyes of all look to Thee, and Thou dost give them their food in due time,” the psalmist testifies. “Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15–16). There is no good thing-physical, intellectual, emotional, moral, spiritual, or of any other sort-that anyone possesses or experiences that does not come from the hand of God. If God does that for everyone, His children should reflect that same generosity.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 131). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 347–349). Chicago: Moody Press.

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