God: The Template for Sacrificial Giving (John 3:16)

John 3:16 has been referred to as “the gospel in miniature". It is one of the most well- recognized verses of the Bible. Very few verses are so short, yet so powerful. We must be careful not to lift it from its original context and the Biblical context. Yet, even void of context it still can tell us much about our great God.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).

Phrase by phrase this short text tells us of God’s greatness. Notice...

  • It tells us of “God”—the greatest Being.
  • It tells us God “so loved”—the greatest quality to the greatest degree.
  • It tells us God loved “the world”—the great totality of humanity without exception.
  • It tells us God loved so much “that He gave”—the greatest action one could make on behalf of another is to give.
  • It tells us God “gave His only begotten Son”—the greatest gift God could possibly offer as an atoning sacrifice for man’s sin—this is no cheap gift.
  • It tells us God gave “that whosoever”—the greatest opportunity man will ever have is to respond to the generous gift God has offered.
  • It tells us God gave for “whoever believes in Him should not perish”—the greatest and simplest of conditions is required by God—faith.
  • It tells us God gave so we might “have everlasting life”—the greatest possession freely becomes our own through God’s gracious offer.

One of the greatest lessons about this verse is the fact we have a God who is actively benevolent. He did not just create us, watch us sin, and inactively observe His creation fall without pity or compassion. God went to great lengths and gave the greatest heaven could offer to pull us from our wretched state.

There is no way we will ever match the generosity of God. God sets the bar far too high for mortal man. However, in our dealings with one another we are to consider His undeserved grace on our behalf and give to others in need of our help as He has willingly and sacrificially given to us. Thank God He did not just idly sit by and watch us perish. Thank God our God is not a pitiless God, unmoved by our frailty. It was within His power to send aid and He did. He saw and He saw to it. In our comparatively small circle of influence, may we have the eyes to see and hands willing to give when others are faced with needs they cannot meet by their own means. May we look to God, the perfect template of sacrificial giving.