1 John 4:9, 10 NLT God showed how much He loves us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
We hear “I love you” coming out of people’s mouths so much any more. They often speak of “loving this or that” and terms of endearment for people, places and things are all categorized under “I love…..” But what kind of love is being exhibited in each of those instances and how deep and true is the love that is being spoken of? God’s kind of love is a love that is unconditional, without limits, sacrificial, selfless and true.
The word for love in this depth and magnitude in the Greek is “agape” and it means: an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is a love by choice and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
In this description and definition of the word used for “love” or “loved” in the above verse we see the Father heart of God; a heart that gives without expecting anything in return; that sacrifices the best for the worst of us; that goes beyond the limits of expectation in provision for those upon whom He bestows His benevolent love. God exhibits the extreme definition of “agape” love. We see this further in 1 John 3:16:
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
It is in seeing the picture of Jesus hanging on that cross, saturated with the sin of mankind that we see love in it’s extreme demonstration! This is how we know love. This extreme love is not a feeling, although feelings often accompany it; it is a choice to do the best for the one you love. The Father heart of God chooses to do the best for us. That’s why He gave Jesus to die for our sin. He knew we couldn’t do anything to deliver us from the consequences of the sin of mankind. We had to have a sinless lamb to shed His blood that we might be set free from our sin. Jesus was that sacrifice!
In looking at the heart of God and understanding this extreme love we come to the realization that we often use whatever example we have of a parent in relating to God as a heavenly Father. Often our earthly example is skewed, imperfect and lacking in this unconditional, sacrificial love. It is then through a clouded lens that we see God and transfer those misconceptions of a parent onto Him. We reduce Him to our picture of a parent and often believe that His love is as imperfect as our earthly parent.
But God is a “perfect” parent! The scripture tells us in 1 John 4:8 that God is love; He doesn’t just love, but His whole being is love. You can see a description of Him in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where Paul speaks of the attributes of love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever,….
This word for love in this portion of scripture is the same Greek word, “agape”, and can be used to describe the love that God has for us. Since God is love, his inherent characteristics can be identified through inserting His name in this portion of scripture where it uses the word “love”. In doing this it is not meant to be changing His word, but simply to give us a better understanding of how God is, what He acts like and how He relates to His children. So we could say that God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. God does not demand His own way. God is not irritable, and keeps no record of when He has been wronged. God is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. God never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. God will last forever,…
Is that the picture that you hold within your heart of God? Do you see Him never giving up on you; always loving and kind, patient with you? Or has your understanding of God seen Him as a harsh taskmaster, ready to whack you if you did something wrong? Have you related to God as “the man upstairs” or your loving Father, who delights in you?
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”
This is a correct picture of God, our heavenly Father. He is here with us, never giving up on us. He is the Mighty God who saves! He gave His very own Son to die for you and me that we might have eternal life; that we might live forever in His presence enjoying the benefits of the abundant life that Jesus died to give us. He rejoices over us with gladness! He quiets us with His love. When we are hurting He hurts with us and when we are exciting and joyous He rejoices with us.
There are two different Hebrew words for “rejoice” in that verse. The first one is “sus” and it means to rejoice, be glad, be greatly happy. God is greatly happy with you! He is not mad at you and He doesn’t hold grudge against you when you do something wrong. God rejoices over you!
The second word for “rejoice” in that verse is the Hebrew word “gil” and it means to joy, rejoice, be glad, be joyful. It contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy,” or “leaping for joy,” since the verb originally meant “to spin around with intense motion.”
God dances for joy over His children. He spins around with intense motion and leaps for joy over those that He calls His own. God delights in you! Can you see that? He is a proud papa! His sees His children as the apple of His eye!
Zechariah 2:8 NKJV For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”
Our heavenly Father has each one of us inscribed on the palms of His hands. He will never forget you!
Isaiah 49:15, 16 NKJV “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
God’s love far surpasses the love that even a mother can have for the child to which she has given birth. Human love can be swayed and sometimes emotions or fear cause a human mother to push away the child of her womb, but God never does that! He never gives up on His child!
Since we have seen earthly parents at times give up on their children and that is the only example we have of parenthood, we may have a tendency to transfer that imperfect understanding of a parent over onto our heavenly Father, who loves perfectly. But He doesn’t exhibit His love for us in that manner.
Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
God loves us with an everlasting love; a love that never quits, never gives up, never condemns and never leaves us. His love for us goes on and on and on….. It is with lovingkindness that He draws us to Himself. He is not a harsh God; He is a loving Father.
If you have had a misunderstanding of God and His love for you, I pray that today you will begin to see Him as He really is.
Father, I thank You for the love that You show us. You love with a perfect love, Father, and I pray that we will each one begin to interact with You as the loving Father that You are. I pray that those who do not understand Your love will have their spiritual eyes opened this morning to see You as You really are. I pray that they will receive the love that You have shown them through the sacrifice of Your Son and that they will be drawn to You through Him and receive Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior. Father, open the eyes of the blind; restore what has been stolen from those who have suffered at the hand of their enemy. Father, heal those who are sick and hurting. Establish your kingdom in the lives of Your children! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.