The love of God is described
by Gini Crawford, MSW
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This is the time of year we think about love and what to give those we specially love. Years ago after my son had gone to buy a card on Valentines Day, he said to me, “The scene he saw was so typically male. The guys, even the men who could manage a Fortune 500 company were standing there with a look of frustration that said, “This is the hardest decision I have had to make this week. What on earth do I buy her to show her I love her?”
People can tell you they love you in the most marvelous ways nowadays, with the many creative and beautiful cards on the market. Some even will audibly tell the person you love what they mean to you, and all you need to do is make sure they open the card (no more need to try to be creative). Roses used to be a costly gift to give but thanks to modern agriculture, roses can be given in abundance. Now, if you don’t want to bother with crowds (but you will need to order a little sooner than “the Day”) you can shop on-line and order everything from flowers to pajamas to tell your love you love them.
We enjoy words of love no matter how they are said to us. Don’t we? Yet, in reality it is the actions of love that truly speak to our hearts, not beautiful words or gifts. Yes, I would be nuts to think we women don’t enjoy and appreciate roses, a lovely card, chocolates or diamonds, but if that gift comes from a person that is unloving to us, the gift becomes just a thing.
Let me ask you some questions and I think you will more clearly understand what I am saying about love. Did you have a father that said he loved you, but he abused you? Did you have a mother that said you were her precious baby, but her actions said the opposite? Do you have a husband who gives you expensive gifts but treats you like you aren’t there most of the time? Do you have a child who is always telling you that you are a terrific mother, but says and does things to be mean to you? Do you have a friend who says she is doing something out of love for you, but what she is doing says she doesn’t even like you? When words are said and gifts are given to show love, but they have no actions to back them up, we don’t really feel or think we are loved, do we? Remember that old but true saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”
God’s love is defined by actions! His Word speaks of His relentless actions of love that kept pursuing us, even when we were His enemy. God’s greatest action of love is seen in His Son, Jesus Christ dying for us.
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10 NASB®
God’s Word makes clear what His love is all about. The Bible says “God is love” in 1 John 4:8. His Word explains to us that He created everything even love. This means that even the need for, thoughts of and feeling of love came from God. Sorry to those of you who thought cupid invented love!
God uses the Hebrew word “hesed” in the Old Testament to describe His type of love. This word can be translated love, unfailing love, lovingkindness, mercy, and loyalty. It means loyal, steadfast or faithful love. It is the kind of love that would live out the wedding vows - until death do we part. In other words, it is a love that commits to the person and stays committed to them no matter what. This “hesed” love is defined by God and His desire to be in a covenant love relationship with us. This desire from God was so great He died so He could be in a covenant relationship with us.
In the same way, He (Jesus Christ) gave them the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is God's new covenant sealed with my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:20 (GNT)
Since this is true, how much more is accomplished by the blood of Christ! Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will purify our consciences from useless rituals, so that we may serve the living God. For this reason Christ is the one who arranges a new covenant, so that those who have been called by God may receive the eternal blessings that God has promised. This can be done because there has been a death which sets people free from the wrongs they did while the first covenant was in effect. Hebrews 9:14-15 (GNT)
What does covenant mean from God’s perspective? The word “covenant” simply put 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. This is because marriage is a relationship where love is. (It’s not a business type of relationship.) Covenant in the Bible may be thought of as the committed relationship from which God’s love becomes alive to us.
God’s desire for this love relationship started before the world was even created (Ephesians 1:4). When we believe in Jesus Christ, this puts us in a covenant relationship with God. However, God’s love isn’t bound by our commitment to Him because we tend to be unfaithful to our relationships, to the covenants we make with God and others. God’s love in His covenant relationship with us is bound by Who God is, not by what we do. God is never unfaithful, He never lies, and He never changes, so His love in His covenant relationship with us is steadfast and everlasting. I know this is hard for us to understand because our so-called love is selfish. If someone does something we don’t like, then we don’t feel like loving them.
God uses the Greek word “agape” in the New Testament to describe His love. This love can only come from God because it is an unselfish, unconditional and sacrificial love that is driven by what is best for the person loved, not by the person loving. The most powerful, the most unmistakable act of “agape” love is Jesus Christ dying for us.
This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. 1John 4:10 (GNT)
Agape” love also suggests the wonderful feeling of finding ones joy in that something or someone. Hebrews 12:2 tells us Jesus found His joy in us so much that He endured the cross for us.
… fixing our eyes on Jesus,…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame… NASB®
Love is never in a vacuum. We can’t say we love until we have an object to love. You are God’s object of love! God’s love is towards each one of us as if we were God’s only love…
"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®
God wrote us a book to tell us He loves us, to describe His great love for us. He wanted us to know His words were true in this book so He backed them up with actions of love for us. His Words and actions of love are wrapped up in the most precious gift He could give us, His Son.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NASB®
Life application: God has certainly backed up His Words of love with what He did for us. Hasn’t He? The Bible asks us to love too, first God and then each other (Mark 12:30-31). Mediate on 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 4-7, remembering God loves us this way. Ask Him to give you the desire and strength to love Him and others.
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