We love Him because He first loved us. -1 John 4:19
When you were conceived, you did not think about God. In fact, our inability to love, honor, and respect God as we should goes back to our first parents. Our original sin, our inability to love God as we ought to, goes back to when Adam and Eve decided that they would disobey God and then there was no longer a proper love for Him. When you were conceived you did not love God, you did not honor Him, you did not respect Him; from your conception, you have been a sinner.
When you were a little child you did not love God as you should. Beginning as an infant all you cared about was where the warmth came from and where your next meal was going to come from; you did not love and honor God. When you grew into a toddler, maybe you knew who this God was, or were told about Him, but you did not love Him. You loved your parents, you loved your siblings (if you had any), you probably even loved your pet… but you did not love God, you did not honor God, you did not respect God. Even while you were an infant and a toddler, you were a sinner.
When you grew up and became a teenager, then you really did not love God. As a teenager life truly got in the way of loving and respecting God and His word. As a teenager, you knew better. God did not know what was best for you, you did. As a teenager, you did not love you parents and honor them and sadly you did not love and honor God as He deserves. Yes, during your teenage years, you were a sinner.
When you went away to college things really got interesting. Alcohol, friends who didn’t like or go to church, the opposite sex really started to come into play; so many new and exciting things and God didn’t always fit into that mold. God was someone that you might visit if you needed to pass a test or if you decided not to stay out too late on Saturday night but otherwise you did not love and honor God as you should have. You put other things, things of this world, first. Friends were first; Grades were first; Pleasures were first; God was not first. When you were in college, no matter how smart you were, you were a sinner.
As you grew up middle age did not treat you well at all. You got married and began to have children and they became first in your life. The wife needs your time, the children need your time, the job needs your time; God has to wait. “Maybe next weekend” became an all too real thought and answer. Not able to pull yourself up to go to church but you religiously cheered for and went to those sporting events. During the middle of your life, God was not first, you were a sinner.
Finally, old age came. Old age hit you like a ton of bricks because now you were faced with your own mortality… maybe for the first time. You got a little bit slower, you got a little more frail, you didn’t think or reason as fast as you used to, time caught up with you, and still, God is not first. Children and grandchildren, spouses and remaining family, medications and television shows; all of these take up precious hours, but God is still left in the corner… just waiting for you, waiting for you to love Him.
Because you see, God did love us first. When our first parents sinned, God set His plan in motion. He knew that we would not be perfect children, He knew that we would sin, and so He made sure that we would not have to worry about that. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to live the perfect life for you and to die the innocent death for you. Jesus came into this world to bear all of your sin upon the cross and to give you all of His righteousness. Jesus bore on the cross all the times you did not put God first, all the times you knew better than God, all the times that God was not worthy of you… He bore them as He suffered and died; and why? Because God loved you first.
God loved you from the beginning. God loved you when you were conceived and he knit you together in your mother’s womb. God knew you as an infant and toddler and He watched over you as your parents brought you to Him when He baptized you. God knew you as a teenager and, though you did not have time for Him, He made sure that you heard His word and were taught His truths. When you entered into middle age God was still there for you, loving you and making sure that no matter the struggle nothing would be too hard for you to handle… nothing was out of His control. And God knew you in old age. God knows the pain and the struggle that you go through and He is there allowing you to lean on Him, to place all your cares and anxieties on Him, allowing you to know Him and plan eternity with Him.
Yes, God loved you first and He loved you much. So much, in fact, that He sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins, so much that He wrote His words and helped you to read and understand them, so much that He claimed you as His own in baptism, and so much that He gave you the very body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. God loved you first… and because God loved you, you love God. Thanks be to God for loving me.