Have you heard that God is love? What about when it’s spun around to Love is God? Only one of those is right.
Love is an attribute of God that we’ll look at in depth today.
What does God’s love even mean?
It means He’s eternally giving of Himself to others. Love is self-giving for the benefit of others.
1st John 4:8 does say, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Not the other way around. It’s an attribute that was active before Creation itself.
John writes the account where Jesus said “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world (John17:24).”
This is where we see the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In speaking of the coming Holy Spirit, Jesus said “…he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me (John 14:31).” It gives us a peek of Heaven.
The Trinity’s eternal love makes it a world of joy and love because each member seeks to bring joy and happiness to the other two in a dynamic relationship. We were created to share in that perfect love-not out of any need from God.
How does this affect me now?
This self-giving character finds expression in God’s relationship to us, even as sinners who don’t deserve that love.
Is that harsh?
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Think for a moment, who do you know that is so evil they deserve to go to Hell? Would you help them?
In comparison to God, you’re just as bad. The more aware we are of the darkness in our own hearts, the greater we understand the depth of God’s love for us. If we’re honest with ourselves, we admit we don’t deserve it.
How can we imitate this attribute of God?
Easy. Well, easier said than done. Love God in return and love others the same way God
I hear your thought, how do I love them the way God does? It’s definitely a supernatural act. Let’s examine the verses that these thoughts come from.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5
“The Lord, your God, is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”” Zephaniah 3:17
That’s God’s love for us. Our imitation of it is seen in our love for others.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
I haven’t forgotten we still don’t know what that looks like. This is called agape love–undeserved loving-kindness. It’s different from familial love, romantic love, or even affection. When it works side by side with these, though…wow. Imagine the mutually self-sacrificial relationships.
While you read these verses, remember that it’s agape love. God’s love.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Hard to do, right? The last passage really raises the bar. How can we love like that?
God the Holy Spirit that indwells all believers can love through us.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
Do you want to reflect God’s love really? Love your enemies. God does.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
I can’t do that, you say. It’s hard, and they don’t deserve it. True. Remember this…
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:9-11
Once, you were an enemy of God. Now you’re not. If God treated us the way we typically want to treat our enemies, we’d all be dead instead of getting chance after chance at reconciliation.
Next month we’ll talk about just that. God’s grace, mercy, and patience.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 13: The Character of God; “Communicable” Attributes of God Part 2