For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s written at posters at every major football game. It is many people’s favorite verse; the gospel in a nutshell.

However, sometimes this verse is used in a way that is not loving at all. Have you ever used it, or heard it used, in this way: “I know I am going to heaven, and if you don’t believe right or enough, you are going to hell.”

This is not the spirit of Jesus’ words and promise. We need to use care with how we welcome others into Jesus’ promises. Often the focus of John 3:16 seems to be on the words “everyone who believes . . . may have . . .” What if the focus was placed not so much on what we do, but on what God does? On the first part of the verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave….”

God’s love gives. What if, when you shared this verse with someone else, you told them all that God has given you? Could we use this verse like Jesus did; not to make other’s fear God’s wrath, but to inspire and invite others to trust in God’s love and life for you, and for them, through God’s only Son.

Prayer: Loving God, I thank you for giving me fill in the blank. Help me to so love others, that I am careful and loving instead of condemning when I share your love with them. Amen