I, like you, maybe, check the best before dates on food items before I eat them. I have an uncontrollable aversion to any food product that is past its expiry date.
Even if the milk still smells fine or the chocolate still looks normal, I get that queasy feeling in my tummy if the product has reached its expiry date. If it’s anywhere close to being over that “best before” date, I will try my best to avoid it.
And don’t get me started on those “packaged on,” “sell by,” and “use before” dates. How am I to make sense of those? Should I really still be buying stuff that’s past its “sell by” date, but hasn’t reached the “use before” date? How do I know it’s still safe to consume?
I know that this fear of food past its expiry date is irrational, though. Numerous studies have shown that most foods are still fine after that “sell by” date. (That’s if you can believe what you read on the internet!)
In all this confusion about the “best before” dates on perishable items, I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with this confusion in the church. For God’s love has no shelf life. No expiry date.
When it comes to God’s unmerited favour towards sinners like us, there’s no such thing as an expiry date. There’s no “best before” advisory label. There’s no fine print.
That’s because God’s love for his children can’t expire. It will never fade. It will never sour or lose its sweetness. It’s not like food after reaching its best before date!
The unending nature of God’s love is beautifully described in Psalm 136. This Psalm really only has one message, and it’s a message that is repeated in every single verse.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His steadfast love endures forever.
He alone does great wonders. His steadfast love endures forever.
He made the heavens skillfully. His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1-5)
In these five verses printed here, we see that the refrain “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated in every verse. And this continues in all 26 verses of the Psalm so that we do not forget the message of the Psalm that God’s “steadfast love endures forever.”
Basically, what the Psalm is saying, is that God’s love is eternal! It’s forever. It’s unyielding. It has no shelf life. The good message is that when it comes to God’s love you don’t have to search for the label with the “best before” date on it. The writer of Psalm 136 repeats this fact 26 times: God’s steadfast love endures forever.
But now, if you’re so used to looking for labels and best before dates, and you want to look somewhere just to make sure God’s love really endures forever, lift your eyes and see Jesus on the cross.
That is where you see the love of God for you, and the steadfast nature of His love. Jesus has died for your sins and mine. Once we have repented of our sins and have received the Lord’s forgiveness, those sins are forgiven. They have expired.
So look at the cross. See the steadfast love of God for you. And see that your sins are forgiven. Jesus has given His life so that our sins get forgiven (they expire!), and we inherit life eternal. Life without an expiry date. Life in God’s steadfast love, now and forever!
Pastor Dr Heinz Hiestermann, Greytown