God addresses five major aspects of love in His Word and God wants you to grow in each one. As you grow in each one, you will begin to experience more and more the abundant life He has planned for you.
- Receiving love from God. This is being able to recognize when God is loving you whether you are on the mountain or in the valley, whether things are going right or going wrong. God’s ultimate demonstration of love was through Jesus Christ on the cross, but He also continues to demonstrate His love to you in other ways in your life.
- Expressing love to God. This is where you demonstrate your commitment and dedication to God with your whole life: the way you think, feel, and behave.
- Expressing love to others. Throughout God’s Word we are told to love our neighbor, love one another, speak the truth in love, and love our enemies. God is pouring His love into you so you can love others no matter who they are.
- Receiving love from others. It’s one thing to love others and a complete different thing to let others love you. God wants you to receive love from others. Let them speak the truth in love to you, let them encourage you, let them bless you, let them correct you, let them help you get back on the right path.
- Learning to love yourself. This is seeing yourself the way God sees you. This is seeing yourself as valuable, precious, and worth saving. We are not talking about being selfish, but we are seeing ourselves as set apart. You see yourself as more than a conquer in Christ and as someone who has a significant purpose in life designed by God.
Today, we are going to focus on the first aspect of love. We want to focus on receiving love from God and understanding what God’s love is like.
Aspects of Love
“We know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
“Love your neighbor
“Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
Humbly loving yourself
“Love your neighbor
One of the first truths you need to understand is in 1 John 4:8 which clearly and simply states that “God is love” (NLT). That’s His nature. That’s His character. Everything He does is out of love. Everything He doesn’t do is out of love. To understand what it means to have a God whose essence is love we need to wrap our minds around some incredible truths about God’s love.
God’s love is Uncaused
Number one, God’s love is uncaused. Sometimes experiences in life will falsely teach you that you must earn love or that others must earn your love. This false idea of love is seen when you must meet certain standards or conditions that will cause others to love you because of your good actions, attributes, or attractiveness. This is a weight we were not created to carry.
In many relationships, we generally do not love those who show unattractive or repelling actions or attributes. But God’s love for us is not like that: it is free, spontaneous, unprompted and uninfluenced. There is nothing we can do to cause God to love us, and there is nothing we can do to prevent Him from loving us. God’s love is uncaused. God loves us simply because He is God, not because we have done anything to cause it. God’s love is uncaused.
Listen carefully, nothing you will ever do could make God love you more than He does right now: not great achievement, not greater beauty, not greater intelligence, not great wisdom, not greater sacrifice, not greater levels of spiritual maturity. God’s love is uncaused. Nothing you have ever done could make God love you any less: not any sin, not any failure, not any guilt, not any regret or not any mistake. God’s love is uncaused.
This is what Paul is trying to explain in 2 Timothy 1:9, “For God saved us [that’s an expression of God’s love] and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (NLT). Then we read in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance [uncaused by you] to adopt us into his own family [expression of His love] by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (NLT). God’s love is uncaused. He loves you because that was His plan and He loves you because He wanted to.
Because God is God, He does as He pleases, and it pleases Him to love us without cause. Think of the first days of the first man and woman ever to exist. God made Adam and Eve, so they brought Him no secrets or surprises. They could offer Him nothing He did not already have. He loved them simply because it was His plan to do so. From the beginning of time, God does not love us because we love Him. According to 1 John 4, “We love because he first loved us” (CSV). God’s love is uncaused.
God’s love is Unreasonable
Number two, God’s love is unreasonable. I’m not using the word unreasonable in the derogatory sense. Let me explain.
From the day Adam and Eve sinned against God, mankind has continued to rebel, to drift away from Him, and to break every commandment given to us for our good. It would seem we have given back to God nothing but disappointment and heartbreak. Throughout the Bible and world history and your history – we see that if God has responded to us reasonably and reacted the way we do, He would have abandoned or destroyed humanity long ago.
This is why I say that God’s love is unreasonable. So while His love seems unreasonable, it is not irrational; it bears divine reason, which our finite human minds cannot comprehend. God said in Isaiah 55:8, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine’” (NLT).
This unreasonable love is seen in Romans 5:6-8, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners [unreasonable]. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners [unreasonable]” (NLT). It makes more sense that a person would lay down their life to save a good person. That seems reasonable. However, to lay down your life for a bad person who is mean, rebellious, stubborn, and selfish does not make any sense. It’s unreasonable. But that’s what Jesus did on the cross for you.
God’s love is Unending
God’s love is uncaused. God’s love is unreasonable. Number three, God’s love is unending. The unending nature of God’s love is inseparably connected with God’s eternal nature, which is revealed in several places throughout the Bible.
- Genesis 21 describes God as “the Eternal God” (v.33, NLT).
- In Revelation 1 God is described as “the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end” and “the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One” (v.8, NLT).
- Psalm 90:2 says, “… from beginning to end, you are God” (NLT).
All those statements speak of God’s eternal nature. They tell us that He always existed and will always exist.
Unlike us, He is not limited by time or space, because He created them both.
- Because He created time and stands above it, He has immediate access to the entire scope of time from beginning to end.
- Because He created space and stands above it, He can be at all places in the universe simultaneously.
He transcends the ticking of the clock and pinpointing on the map. We cannot even imagine these mind-bending concepts because none of us have ever taken a step outside of time or space. This is part of what makes God… God.
However, God’s love reflects His eternal nature. God Himself tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (CSV). God’s love goes on and on and on. You may have been loved by someone and that someone stopped loving you. That will never happen with God’s love toward you. He is not going to walk out on you. He is not going to abandon you. He is not going to leave you helpless. God has an everlasting love.
Romans 8:38-39 says, “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Msg). God’s love is on you and in you so strongly, so tightly, so permentately that nothing can remove it, nothing can shake it, nothing can break it, nothing can come between God’s love and you. God’s love is everlasting.
God’s love is Unchanging
Number four, God’s love is unchanging. God wants you to know that He is unchanging, perfectly consistent, and eternally unwavering. There is one thing that will always remain constant and that’s the character of God. God does not love you on Thursday, but not on Friday. God does not love you when you are good but changes His mind about you when you are bad. God’s love does not change.
- God said in Malachi, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (3:6, NLT).
- The psalmist declared to God, ‘You are always the same” (Psalm 102:27, NLT).
- James simply stated about God, “He never changes” (1:17, NLT).
What a wonderful thought to know that because God is unchanging, His love is unchanging. God’s love is constant in its faithfulness and continual in its expression; it neither diminishes nor disappears, regardless of our circumstances.
Nothing that has happened or will happen could dislodge Jesus’ tenacious attachment to you. He is a living picture of the unchanging love I’m describing. His love is perfect and always has been perfect, meaning it never varies, grows, or diminishes. In other words, the love He will have for you in the future will never be greater or lesser than the love He has for you now. And His love for you now is no lesser or greater than it has been for eternity past. His love for you is nothing less than constant, unchanging, and eternal.
There is a good side and a better side to God’s unchanging love. The good side is that God will not wake up in the morning and decide He’s had enough of you. The better side is that even when we wake up in the morning and decide we’ve had enough of Him, He will still love us. God’s love is unchanging.
God’s love is Unconditional
Number five, God’s love is unconditional. God’s love does not have conditions that must be met before He will love you. God loves does not say, “I will love you if….” There are no “ifs” with God’s love. You will never hear or see God say, “I will love you if you go to church” or “I will love you if you stop doing this or that sin” or “I will love you if you start being nicer” or “I will love you if you are more generous” or “I will love you if you do this or that.” That’s not God’s kind of love. He loves you simply because He loves you. God’s love is unconditional.
Listen to what Deuteronomy 7:7 has to say to a group of people, “The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you…” (vs.7-8, NLT).
You don’t have to do anything to be loved by God, you already are. You don’t have to change a thing, God already loves you. You don’t need to add anything to your life or take anything away, He already loves you. You can’t earn God’s love in any form or fashion. God’s love is unconditional.
God loves is uncaused, unreasonable, unending, unchanging, and unconditional. What is our response to this kind of love?
I think our first response needs to be to believe God’s love. 1 John 4:16, “And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (CSV). It’s one thing to have knowledge about God’s love and a complete other thing to believe it. When you believe in God’s love and are convinced God’s love is real, genuine, and personally applied to you it changes the way you think about God and yourself, it changes the way you feel and behave. Look, I realize there have been people in your life who said, “I love you.” They may have meant it at the time or simply said it because they wanted something from you, but God’s love is not like that. It’s pure and holy and genuine and unchanging and real. You can believe this love.
I think a second response would be to express God’s love. There is something wonderful that happens as you know and believe in God’s love, you begin to express it toward others. 1 John 4:11, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us” (vs. 11-12, NLT). In other words, the people in our lives will get a glimpse of what God looks like as He loves them through you. There is something about being loved that causes you to be more loving.