The One True God's Love
by Gini Crawford, MSW
In 1 John 4:8, the Bible says, "God is love." This means that God's love is expressed in everything He does and says. God's love permeates Who He is. God is sovereign, but His rule is acted out through His love. God is just, but every act of justice is done in His love. God is all knowing, but His knowledge is guided by His love. Since God is love, He is always desirous to give us His merciful compassion.
God's love defined in the New Testament.
The Greek word that best describes God's love is agape / agapao. (The New Testament was written in the Greek language.) Agape isn't based on a feeling, but an act of the will that puts the welfare of the one loved above the one loving. It highly values the one it loves, even if the one loved is unlovable. It is also a love that compels the one loving to even give by self sacrifice for the well-being of the one loved. In other words, it is an unselfish, unconditional, and sacrificial love. Jesus' life models agape love.
The most powerful, the most unmistakable act of agape love is Jesus Christ, the One True God, dying for us. In John 15:13, Jesus says, there is no greater way of showing your love for someone than by dying for them. A mother in Russia gave her life so her daughter could live, by shielding her daughter from a suicide bombing. I feel we would all agree the mother showed agape love towards her daughter. Yet, even this mother's sacrificial love doesn't equal the agape love God has for us. Jesus had every right to receive our worship and our sacrifices, but instead the God who created everything, Who is self-existent, sovereign, eternal, the source of all life, all-powerful, always present - allowed Himself to be sacrificed for us!
How do you feel about this? It makes me feel valued and loved.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (offering) for our sins. 1John 4:10 NASB®
I imagine people think God loves us out of duty, not out of desire. However, agape love suggests that the lover finds joy in the loved. Hebrews 12:2 tells us Jesus found His joy in us so much that He endured the cross for us. Beautiful reality, isn't it?
...fixing our eyes on Jesus ...who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame... NASB®
God's love defined in the Old Testament.
The Hebrew word for love that best describes God's love is hesed / chesedh. (The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language.) This word is translated love, unfailing love, lovingkindness, mercy, and loyalty. The basic idea of hesed is - an act of love, kindness, mercy, or faithfulness shown towards someone you are in some type of relationship with. Hesed is a loyal, steadfast or faithful love. Hesed is the kind of love that would live out the wedding vows. In other words, it is a love that commits to the person and stays committed to them no matter what. God's hesed is a loyal love which is unfailing, everlasting, and intentional towards us.
I was the wedding coordinator for a dear friend decades ago because I came free. I was standing with the bride just before she walked down the aisle, so I got to see firsthand her joy as she saw her groom. I also saw the groom's radiant face as he saw his beloved. What a beautiful moment in time. God's love makes me think of the joy and the total commitment a bride and groom have for each other on their wedding day. God loves to love you!
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17 NASB®
As Christians, we are in an eternal covenant relationship with God. You are probably thinking, "What does the old-fashioned term covenant mean?" Simply put, covenant means an agreement with a person or group of people to whom you are deeply committed. The covenant relationship of marriage is a good example of what I am talking about here. This is because marriage is a relationship where love is. Covenant in the Bible may be thought of as the committed relationship from which God's love (hesed) becomes alive to us.
When we believe in Jesus Christ, this puts us in an eternal covenant relationship with God. From past history blood seemed to be a big part of some covenant making. The use of blood was to confirm a covenant and show how binding the covenant was. Remember, Jesus shed His blood, so we can by belief, be in a covenant relationship with Him.
It's important to appreciate God's love isn't bound by our commitment to Him because we tend to be unfaithful to our relationships. God's love in His covenant relationship with us is bound by Who God is and what He has done, not by what we do. God is never unfaithful, so His love (hesed) in His covenant relationship with us is steadfast and everlasting. I know this is hard for us to understand because our love can be very non-committal. Read Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:26-29; Hebrews 13:20-21. Write down some insights from these passages about God's eternal covenant with us.
Loving others is a must. God tells us and shows us how to love through His Word, with His Spirit (Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). We will never completely agape love anyone because it is a supernatural phenomenon coming from the God of love. But God does want to empower us to come as close to His love as humanly possible. Jesus tells us in John 13 that people will know we are His by our love for one another. So loving others makes us a witness for Jesus. Neat motivation to love, isn't it? Read John 13:34-35; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 3:16-20, 5:1-2; 1 John 4:10-11, 19-21.
Write down some insights from these passages about God's love and our love.
What are your personal thoughts about how God loves you?
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