God’s love and mercy to you is far greater than you could ever imagine or understand.
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
One of the great temptations Christians experience is the “whispering inner voice” that says, “God is not as good as you have been led to believe. He doesn’t love like he says. If there is any love it is very restrained and so conditional that you can’t be sure he really loves you.” It is a temptation from the evil one himself but fuelled by our original sin. Of course, it is entirely untrue but when the doubt is sown it can be hard to be rid of it.
We can turn to the assurances of the word of God. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son” is a good start. We could also go back in Ephesians to the previous chapter, where Paul begins by outlining the greatness of our sin and deception before showing the contrast, “but God, being rich in mercy and because of his great love for us ….” Then there is the all comprehensive statement of I John 4:16, “God is love” which is surrounded by assurances of the love of God. It is then that the point of attack may change so that the doubt isn’t that God loves but rather that doesn’t love me.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in these verses is that they would fully understand and apply the love of Christ. Notice in verse 18, that he is asking that they be enabled to understand the love of Christ. This implies that it is always going to be a struggle. It is something he says that is for all the saints, and therefore not just for some spiritual elites (if such exist!!). All of us need prayer for this understanding of God’s love. He provides a description of this love in terms of unfathomable dimensions but also says of the love of Christ that we are to “know the surpassing knowledge of Christ.” The implication of each of these terms is that when you think you know and understand the love of Christ there is still more to know and understand.
This is the exact opposite of the temptation. The temptation is saying the love is limited and restrained but the reality is that it is so great we can keep growing in our understanding of it. The concluding words that this growth has the purpose of us “being filled with all the fulness of God” expresses an exciting truth for those who believe in Jesus. It means that all the promises of blessing from God are carried by the full weight of this staggering love. How much does God love us? We need only look at the cross and see the beloved Son of God dying for us to grasp something of that love. But it also implies that the forgiveness through Christ, the reality of eternal life in him, the acceptance as God’s child with Christ are all supported by the astounding love of God to sinful people like us. What can we do but respond with a wholehearted love in return with full praise and service to our glorious God.
Prayer: Father, please forgive us that we often become confused by the temptations to doubt your love and mercy. Please refocus our attention on the wonder of our Lord Jesus and hist astounding saving work for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Centre My Life
Living Church – Creek Road