IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: THE MAGNANIMOUS LOVE OF GOD TOWARDS US
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Giving the best we have and holding nothing back
The crowning virtue
Magnanimity has long been recognized as a key virtue for leaders and for everyone who desired to do great and honorable deeds for the people they served, even in the face of difficulty, and at the cost of great personal sacrifice. It is an essential virtue for parents and those who work with young people, for teachers, mentors, and pastoral workers who aspire to excellence in training and helping others grow in maturity and strong character. Aristotle called it “the crowning virtue.” Like a magnificent crown adorned with numerous jewels and precious gems, magnanimity ennobles all of the virtues and directs them to the generous service of others – to many great and noble deeds.
The word “magnanimity” comes from the Latin word, magnanimus, which is derived from the Greek word, mega-lopsuchia, which literally means “great of soul”: magnus in Latin means “great,” large,” and “noble,” and animus in Latin refers to “heart,” mind,” “soul,” or “spirit.”
Magnanimity describes the man or woman who has a “great heart,” a “noble mind,” and a “generous spirit” who takes delight in doing great deeds for the benefit of others. It is especially marked by an attitude of benevolence – freely giving to others and aiding them without any expectation of repayment or reward. Magnanimity not only treats others with fairness and kindness, it is also generous in forgiving insults and injuries, even of one’s enemies, because it refuses to be swayed by petty resentfulness or vindictiveness.
David was magnanimous towards King Saul, even when Saul tried to kill him.
All for God
The word “magnanimity” is rarely used in the Bible – there are only a few uses of the term in the Greek manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments. However, the Scriptures do use a variety of expressions to describe the great quality of this virtue. I believe that one key expression of this virtue can be found in the biblical use of the word “all” – especially when describing how one should relate to God. God is very generous and magnanimous towards us – he is all-loving, merciful, and faithful. And God commands that we in turn give him our all as well. We see this in first and great commandment:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”(Mark 12:29-30; Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 10:27). The second is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:31; Leviticus 19:18).
God is so great in all things that he despises none: he has no rivals, and has no need to sustain himself by lowering the good name of others. He is supremely real, so true and thorough, that in him there can never be so much as the thought of despising any in order to guard himself. His power is not soon aroused to war, because it has no opposition to fear; his might is associated with gentleness, and fury is not in him, because it is such great might that when it is once in action it devours his adversaries as flame consumes the stubble. God is too great to be contemptuous, too mighty to be haughty.
God did not wait for us to “clean up our act” first, to make improvements in holiness, to make progress on our own and somehow turn ourselves to him. But instead, he magnified his love for us by sending his Son to die for us while we were yet in our sins, yet in rebellion against him, yet having no desire to know him or serve him.
He is mighty in all respects, and especially in the restraint which he puts upon his wrath. If you wish to see this, look at the forbearance and longsuffering which he manifests towards the disobedient. How matchless is his patience! How enduring his mercy! The wicked provoke him, and he feels the provocation, but yet he does not smite. Week after week they still insult him, they even touch the apple of his eye by persecuting his people, but still he lets the lifted thunder drop, and gives space for repentance. He sends them messages of mercy, he implores them to turn from the error of their ways; but they harden their hearts, they blaspheme him, they take his holy name in vain. Still, by the space of many years he bears with their incessant rebellions, and though he is grieved with the hardness of their hearts, he keepeth back his indignation. This patience is shown, not here and there to one of our race, but to myriads of the human family, and not for one generation only, but from generation after generation still doth his good Spirit strive, still doth he stretch out his hands all the day long even to the disobedient and to the gainsayers. Not willing that any should perish, he waiteth long and patiently, because he delighteth in mercy.
It is marvellous that he should be able to forgive any, and so perfectly to forgive. It often happeneth to us that we feel compelled to say when greatly offended, “I can forgive you, but I fear I shall never forget the wrong.” God goeth far beyond this, for he casteth all our sins behind his back, and he declares that he will not remember them against us any more for ever. What, never! Such deep offences; such heinous crimes! Such provoking transgressions! Shall they never be remembered? What, not even remembered? Shall there not be at least a frown, or a degree of coolness on account of them? No. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” It shows the great-mindedness of God that he should be able to act thus, and to act thus towards the very chief of sinners. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
True magnanimity is giving without reservation that comes from an attitude within oneself whether one is rich or poor. This is done in spite of the knowledge of another’s weakness, sin, or even abundance in life whether that be in character or material wealth. Many do much for the poor in spirit and life and feel for them but few do anything for the rich in wealth and character. I think, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Wow!
That is magnanimity. He had already given us natural life but went one step further to give us eternal life. I am amazed that He wants to, when we as miserable sinners wasted His first unreserved giving of life in creating us. Now, he goes one further and makes us sons and daughters after we have sinned and hurt Him. He goes from creating to begetting. His DNA is now in those who believe and that magnanimity is the make up of grace and love.
God allowed Jesus to be made sin and put the blame on Him for our transgressions because His mercy (magnanimity) was to be seen on sinners who did not deserve forgiveness. He took it upon Himself for the purpose of saving those whom He loved. This is wow! I know that I am a sinner and do not deserve His love or forgiveness but He does it unconditionally first and then conditionally on repentance in the knowledge that I will fail Him over and over again. This silences the accuser and releases magnanimous love.
“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
The more I understand this love, the more I see the sweeping grace and largeness of God. Yet, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.
My hope is, we will all be sweepingly magnanimous in our approach to life and allow God to be God while we learn to humble ourselves while He loves the world. I cannot separate people adequately to know the difference in people to condemn them or judge them. I have some discernment but more than that, I am relying on His love for me and His words that assures me saying,” I will never leave you or forsake you”. Be blessed.
Lord, help me as I look at my own life to examine where I stand in my love for you and my love for my neighbor. Where have I been holding back, trying to do the bare minimum? Give me the strength to break free and begin loving you with magnanimity.
O Lord, you so designed the plan of your salvation so as to magnify your great love for us. You revealed that love in Christ and in his cross. You revealed it to us by your Word and your Spirit. We never “make the first move, ” but it is always you who take the initiative and love us and turn us to you. For that, Lord, we praise you and love you! Amen.
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