One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved. We all need love. We need to know that we are important to somebody, that somebody truly cares about us, wants us, and accepts us unconditionally. The good news from God’s Word is that somebody does love us—God! Love is His nature. It is the essence of His being.
God’s Love is Self-giving
God wanted so much to manifest His love that He first created the angelic hosts and later the human race so that He might communicate Himself to them, give of Himself for them, and bestow His very best on them for their benefit and blessing. Our love is often selfish and demanding, but God’s love is pure. Because He is love, He loves to give. Jesus said He gives good things to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11). James went so far as to say that every good gift finds its source in Him (James 1:17). Since God is love, we can expect Him to give of Himself.
God’s Love is Sacrificial
Not only does God’s love motivate Him to give, but it motivates Him to give when it costs Him dearly. God’s love cost Him the very best that He had—His only Son. That is the message of the greatest love text in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s giving His Son involved more than merely allowing Him to leave Heaven’s glory and enter earth’s history. It meant allowing Him to die in our place and pay the awful debt of our sins. God proved His love conclusively and irrefutably by sending His Son to the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9,10). That is sacrificial love.
It was no less of a sacrifice for God the Son; His willingness to offer Himself was the summit of sacrificial love. Paul called Him “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Christ made the supreme sacrifice for us when He died in our place. He was falsely accused, beaten, spit on, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, and left to die the most excruciating death known to man. The infinite curse of sin’s penalty, the Father’s just punishment for the whole world’s guilt, was laid on Him as He hung on that cross. He possessed the power to walk away from it unscathed, yet He voluntarily stayed there and bore that suffering for us. There simply is no greater love (John 15:13).
Whenever we are tempted to think that nobody loves us, we need to think of the cross. Jesus bore that shame and suffering because He loves us. He values us so highly that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to secure for us eternal joy.
God’s Love is Unconditional
One of the most amazing things about God’s love is that it is extended to us when we do not deserve it and continues steadfast and strong even when we do not respond to it. When the Bible says, “For God so loved the world,” it refers to each individual sinful person. The Bible categorizes all unbelievers as God’s enemies, people who have willfully set themselves against Him (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21). God even loves His enemies—all of them.
There is not one good thing in any of us that merits God’s love. He does not love us because we are so lovable or because we can somehow make ourselves worthy of His love. We are totally unworthy, yet He prizes us highly and showers His very best on us. It is His love for us that gives us our worth. God finds great delight and receives great glory when we respond to His love, enter His fellowship, and do His will. In fact, He made us for that purpose. But whether or not we ever return His love, He keeps on extending it to us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us any more, and nothing we ever do will cause Him to love us any less. He loves us perfectly and completely regardless of how we perform. His love is unconditional.
God’s Love is Eternal
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love”
(Jeremiah 31:3). That everlasting love reaches into eternity past. He knew us and loved us before He made us, when we were but a thought in His mind. And He will love us for eternity to come, for, as Paul assured us, nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).
How can we ever exhaust the love of God! Paul called it a love that “passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19), far greater than our finite minds can grasp. He also called it a “great love” (Ephesians 2:4). He referred to its breadth, its length, its depth, and its height (Ephesians 3:18), but it is obvious that he was speaking of dimensions that defy measurement: breadth and length which encompass the whole world, a depth which reaches to the lowest sinner, a height which exalts us to the loftiest Heaven. God’s love has no limit. It is described in F. M. Lehman’s gospel song:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.
We can no more exhaust God’s love than we can empty the ocean with a bucket. And we are invited to keep drawing from His inexhaustible supply.
God’s Love is Holy
Since God is holy, then His love must be a holy love that encourages holiness in those loved. God will use every loving means at His disposal to encourage our obedience. He does that because He loves us. The writer to the Hebrews encouraged us not to regard God’s discipline lightly. It is the evidence of His love for us (Hebrews 12:5,6). He knows that obedience to His Word will be for our greatest happiness, so He takes steps to help us want to obey Him. If He did not love us, He would not care about our happiness.
God’s Love is Comforting
When we grasp the reality of God’s love we will rest in the Lord, free from all fear, secure in the assurance that He is going to provide all that we need and protect us from everything that will not be for our good.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). God never punishes His children. He laid all the punishment for our sins on His Son. He disciplines us in love for our benefit, but even that is nothing to be afraid of. Understanding God’s love eliminates all fear—fear of God’s discipline, fear of what tomorrow holds, fear of losing a loved one, fear of losing a job, fear of natural catastrophes, fear of global war, fear of suffering, fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of rejection. God loves us! There is nothing to fear.
God’s Love is Life-changing
It is to our advantage to know and believe the love that He has for us. We may never be able to grasp it fully with our human understanding alone, but God is ready to make it real to us if our hearts are open and receptive to His Word. Most of us long to be loving people, but we find it so difficult. God’s love can change that. We can find all the acceptance and affection we crave in Him. Then, secure in His love, we shall be able to reach out in love to others, unselfishly, sacrificially, unconditionally, and inexhaustibly. It will profoundly influence our relationships with those around us.
A world-renowned theologian was asked by a student what he considered to be the most significant theological truth he ever learned. His answer was, “Jesus loves me. This I know; for the Bible tells me so.” Believe it. God loves you!
—Condensed from The Joy of Knowing God by Richard Strauss.