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We live in a world of superlatives. You never hear anyone say "that was a good play" or "that was a good dinner." Statements like "that was the greatest move of all time" or "that was the best dinner I've had in years" abound. Remember Muhammad Ali, the boxer? "I am the greatest" he would proclaim to anyone who would listen!
There's only one greatest! John 3:16. To most Christians, the reference is enough. It describes the greatest love of all time -- and here the superlative is not only intended, but warranted. Unlike Muhammad Ali, God does not go around boasting that He's "The Greatest", yet He truly is the only one worthy of that title. The Greatest. Number One. Incomparable.
For God: It takes God to begin the greatest love. God is always in the beginning of everything good (James 1:17). He was there in the beginning. He created the heavens and the universe. He created us. He is truly the Greatest Initiator.
so loved: What a perfect world God created. Then He placed man in it! What a mess we made of the world in our pitiful, sinful state. But God loved us. Unconditionally. Even with the mess we make of things (Romans 5:6-8). That certainly is the Greatest Compassion the world has ever known!
the world: Not just a few of us. Not just a city. A country. Or a continent. The world -- meaning all the people in existence. Can you imagine -- the Greatest Number of people possible, He loved!
that He gave: When God gives you something, that's a blessing. When God gives the whole world something -- that's the Greatest Act imaginable!
His only begotten son: If you have children, you can imagine the sacrifice this was. Yet it was the only way to save mankind. Only God could give the Greatest Gift of all.
that whosoever: Picture a party to which your entire town has been invited. Now multiply that by millions! This Greatest Invitation was, is, and will continue to be open to the entire world!
believeth: And the beauty of it all is that this is the Greatest Simplicity -- just believe!
in Him: The Greatest Person of all -- God!
should not perish: The greatest fear today is fear of death. God answers that with the Greatest Deliverance known to man (Hebrews 2:10-15).
but: The Greatest Difference that exists is the difference between life and death -- and He holds the key!
have: Not "may have," or "probably will have" but the Greatest Certainty of all -- have!
everlasting life: The Greatest Possession -- to live forever with the King of Kings! Scientists have sought formulas for longer life. Explorers have looked for the elusive "Fountain of Youth." And many looked everywhere but up!
The next time someone uses superlatives around you, think about the greatest one of all!
First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume V, Part 1, January 1997.
Copyright 1999 David M. Hnath. All Rights Reserved.
The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.
Quotes are from the New International Version of The Holy Bible. New International Version and NIV are registered trademarks of the International Bible Society.
Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.
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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.