Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
If someone performs an act of love toward you, there are four ways that you can see the depth of that love.
1. The Costliness of the Deed
One is by the costliness of the deed. How much inconvenience or sacrifice did it cost the one who loved you? The greater the sacrifice, the deeper the love. If it cost an afternoon of time and sweat, it is one degree of love. If it cost his life, it is another degree of love.
2. How Undeserving the Object of Love Is
A second way to see the depth of love is by the howundeserving you are of the act of love. Jesus said,
If you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:46–47)
In other words the depth of our love is shown not just in the measure of our sacrifice but in whether we will give it to people who don’t return it—and who may not deserve it at all. The love that overwhelms us is the love that comes to us authentically from those we have deeply wronged.
3. The Greatness of the Benefit Secured
A third way to see the depth of love is by the greatness of the benefit that comes to us by the act of love. If a person claims to love us with sacrifice, but we are not really helped by their love, we might begin to wonder if this kind of love really means anything. Love is not just making a sacrifice. Love is making a contribution to someone’s life—at least that’s the intention. And the greater the gift, the more amazing the love. John wrote,
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God. (1 John 3:1)
The greatness of God’s love is seen in the incredible benefit of being made children of God.
4. The Freedom of the Act
Finally, we see the depth of love which someone shows to us by how free the act of love is. If, for ten or fifteen years, I tell my son to get his brother a birthday present, and even sometimes buy it for him so he’ll have something to give, that is one degree of love between brothers. But if, in his first year away from home at age nineteen, he calls, without a reminder from his parents, the week before his brother’s birthday and tells me he knows of a store where there is a special knife sharpener his little brother really wants, and asks me to take the money from his account and buy it for him, then love is manifest in a whole new way.
Jesus has loved us in all these ways to a degree that is beyond human comprehension.