The words “For God so loved the world” are cherished by every believer. But without realizing it, their familiarity can dull our appreciation of their full meaning. I became aware of my own ingratitude one Christmas when I received a card that said, “God still loves the world!” That card has adorned my kitchen wall ever since. It reminds me that God’s love is always and forever in the present tense.

John 3:16 also emphasizes that God’s endless love for the world motivated Him to give His Son for its redemption. But what is meant by the word world? While God is concerned about our polluted planet, He is supremely concerned about the souls of those who inhabit it. Followers of Christ must love the world too. We must see it as a world of individuals who are lost and need to hear the gospel.

A mature Christian said to a young, enthusiastic believer, “You love to witness to people, don’t you?” “Yes, I do,” was the hasty reply. “But do you love the people you witness to?” he probed. He knew the possibility of witnessing to people without necessarily loving them as individuals.

Let’s be careful we don’t go through the motions without loving those we’re talking to. Our witness will lack power without the force of God’s love.