Ephesians 3:17-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
This whole prayer requires the help of the Holy Spirit to understand, because the magnificence of God’s love is beyond merely human comprehension, just as it says here. (It also doesn’t help that it is one of Paul’s long, convoluted Greek sentences!) We really can’t get it all straight on our own. We tend to limit God’s love, in our imaginations, to our own, when it is far greater and more magnificent. It is only when we open ourselves to Him in faith that we begin to grasp just how great His love for us is. We can’t possibly grasp it on our own without the faith that He provides (Ephesians 2:8). Thankfully, as Paul says in the very next verse, God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Understanding it is too much for us, but it’s no problem for God to cause us to grasp it. I really think that if we could meditate on and apply the letter to the Ephesians in fullness, we would all become mature disciples of Jesus Christ, equipped to tear down the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18) and set the captives free. I talk about love a great deal, particularly in marriage counseling and weddings, pointing out that Jesus’ cross was the ultimate expression of God’s love. We have trouble even with that, because such barbaric cruelty seems antithetical to how we conceive of love. However, it was the Father’s love for us that caused Him to visit such suffering on His Son, who was and is an extension of His own being. I point out that we can’t generate such sacrificial love on our own, even though husbands are commanded to love their wive with that sort of love (Ephesians 5:25), but that if we open our hearts to the Father to receive His love, that love can and does flow through us to those around us. That too is part of the mystery of faith, that is beyond the power of merely human intellect to grasp.
It is silly to pride myself on my love, but human beings are the very definition of silly, and I’m certainly human! I am deeply grateful that God has poured His love out on me so abundantly, and I delight to allow that love to flow through me, first to my wife and also to all those around me. However, my expressions of love are manifestly imperfect, so I need to keep growing. Some people would insist that such love is “selfless,” but I can grasp it only when I understand how much God loves me, so it is inextricably bound to my loving myself accurately. We run into linguistic hurdles here, because this is the opposite of being selfish or self-centered. However, it does mean that I recognize my own worth, because the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me, (Galatians 2:20) If I don’t love myself, since God loves me so much, then it does no good for me to “love my neighbor as I love myself,” as God commanded. (Matthew 22:39) The more I learn of God’s love, the more accurately I love myself and love my neighbor. That’s why I need to open myself up more and more to the infilling and revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the magnificent things You are doing in the believers in this church. I pray that I would indeed be effective in equipping them as they need it, (Ephesians 4:12) so that together we may be all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!