The One True God is 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 does not just love, He is love. 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. (Lamentations 3:21-23).
God's love in the New Testament.
In the New Testament, the Greek word that best describes God's love is agape/agapao. Agape love springs from comprehending that the object of love is valuable. It highly values or esteems the one it loves, even if the one loved is unlovable. Agape is an act of the will (intentional, a conscious choice) that puts the welfare of the one loved above the one loving; it is not based on feelings or motivated by emotions. It's a compassionate act - selflessly giving of oneself to meet a need of another, even an enemy. It is also a love that compels the one loving to give by self sacrifice for the good of the one loved. In other words, it is an unselfish, unconditional, and sacrificial love. Jesus' life models agape love.
The most life-changing and sacrificial act of agape love is Jesus Christ 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. (Revelation 1:5).
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... Hebrews 12:2 NASB®
God's love in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word that best describes God's love is hesed / chesedh. This word is translated love, unfailing love, lovingkindness, kindness, favor, mercy, and loyalty. Hesed is not easily defined in a single word. 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 and 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. (Isaiah 54:10).
The love of God
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®
Covenant of love
You are probably thinking, "What does the old-fashioned term covenant mean?" Simply put, covenant means a binding agreement with a person or people to whom you want or need to be in a relationship with for a purpose. Covenant in the Bible simply means, a binding relational agreement between God and His people in which God makes assured promises and expects certain behavior back.
There are many covenants in the Bible, but the everlasting covenant or new covenant is the central one. From past history blood seemed to be a part of some covenant making - to seal/confirm the covenant and show how binding it was. Our responsibility in the everlasting covenant is to believe in Jesus, Who shed His blood to seal the covenant with us. Thus giving us God's promises of - forgiveness for our sins, His Spirit indwelling us and an eternal loving relationship with Him.
I know the word covenant isn't used much in our society anymore, but the theme of covenant in the Bible is very meaningful. It gives us a beautiful view of how much God loves us and wants to be in a committed relationship with us. Covenant in the Bible may be thought of as the committed relationship from which God's love (hesed) becomes alive to us, like a marriage relationship. (Genesis 17:7; Psalm 106:43-45; Isaiah 54:10, 59:21; Matthew 26:26-29; 2 Corinthians 3:6).
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 be able to agape love anyone fully, 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 chapter thirteen 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 Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 4:19-21.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 NASB®
Is there someone in your life you find hard to love? If so, ask Jesus to help you love that person.
What are your personal thoughts about how God loves you?
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