The Love of God

Have you ever wondered what love is all about?

This is the time of year to consider the concept of love. Coming off the Christmas season, we have just celebrated the birth of Christ. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). But what is love?


Paul discusses the process of justification by faith in Romans 5. Our faith in Christ brings us back into a relationship of peace with God. We can have access by faith into His grace and rejoice in hope of the glory of God because, while we were still without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.

This raises the question—Who would die for another person? To die for a righteous man is a rare event, but perhaps one would dare to die for a good man. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom 5:8-9).

Imagine God becoming man so that He would die for those who are devoted to sin, i.e. to be preeminently sinful, especially wicked. By placing our faith in the sufficiency of the Messiah’s sacrifice we are now justified by His blood, that is, we have been made right and have been declared as righteous. Through the process of justification, God declares to see us as if we had always been righteous. In the future, we shall be saved from the wrath of God. At some point, God will exhibit His divine reaction against evil by bring judgment and punishment to those who have refused His offer of grace.

We can learn much about love by examining Rom 5:8-9.

1. True love is visibly expressed

True love does not just say, “I love you.” This is invisible love, which is no love at all. If people must read your mind to know you love them, they will never really know they’ve been loved. True love always can be noticed. Its activity constantly says, “I love you.” One cannot experience love without first seeing love.

2. True love is always sacrificial

True love is always willing to pay a price for the benefit of another. John 3:16 reminds us how deeply sacrificial God’s love is. For God so loved the world that He gave… A great price tag is attached to true love. Just look at the price paid by Christ (John 1:1-5, 14).

  • The Word existed in the beginning…as God
  • Christ is the word
  • He was the principle involved in the creation
  • He gives life and morality (Light) to men
  • He shines through the darkness of evil, but men cannot comprehend it (refer back to Rom 1:18-21)
  • The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

God is saying, “Look at the price I paid for you. Look at the fact that when you were hopeless, when you were sinful, when salvation was totally out of your reach, I gave My Son for you. That’s how much I love you.” God’s love is forever; the Bible promises that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).

3. True love is always beneficial

True love always seeks to benefit the one who is loved. It does not first ask, “What am I going to get out of this?” Rather, it asks, “What am I going to put into this so that the one I love can get something out of it?” Godly love “does not seek its own” (1 Cor 13:5), but rather it seeks that which is beneficial to another…love’s object. God has our best interest in mind. Romans 5:9 reveals a tremendous benefit that Christ purchased for us when God demonstrated His love. He died for us so that we would be saved from “the wrath of God.” (Rom 1:18—“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”)

4. True love must be unconditional

God’s love is not tied to the worth of the person being loved. If that were the case, none of us would have been saved because Rom 5:8 tells us what our “worth” was before God: “We were yet sinners.” Jesus didn’t wait until we got better, but He died even when we were in our most unlovely state. The person who doesn’t deserve love actually needs love more, not less.

5. True love is judicial

The fact that God’s love is unconditional doesn’t make it weak and accepting of everything. Here we find a major difference between divine love and human love. God’s love always makes judgment calls. Paul put it this way: Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). Love hates what is wrong and embraces what is right. Some people believe that if you love them, you have to accept anything they want to do. You do not love when you do not correct.

6. True love is emotional

As you study the Scripture, be sure to notice the emotion within the passage. The term “But” shows something new is going to be introduced counter to the previous statement. You can see the rise in pitch. A strong “but” is always an inflection that is going to lead to strong language. Aren’t you always waiting for the “but” to fall…You look nice, but… That was a great point you made last week, but… You can feel the emotion. Romans 5:8 is saying, “You sure messed up yesterday, but I love you any way.” Do you see the difference? We tend to make a positive statement and then we use “but” so we can make a negative statement. In this passage, a negative statement is followed by a positive statement. It goes like this—“Mankind did not deserve God’s love, but…He sent His Son to die for us anyway.” Emotion by itself doesn’t equal love, but you can’t have true love without feeling emotion. God feels His love. The Bible emphasizes that He takes great joy in His love for us. Sometimes we emphasize the caring aspect of agape love so much we negate the emotion of it. Any definition of love is incomplete that does not include rejoicing and deep feeling. It doesn’t mean you feel good all the time, but it means that your love is marked by an overriding urge to rejoice (e.g. Rom 5:11—And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”).

So, how does this apply to us?

  • Love desires the best for someone else and Christianity is about the greatest gift ever given.
  • Even in my inadequacy, I can give away this gift of love because 1) God first loved me (1 John 4:19); 2) God has revealed Himself through His Son (John 1:1-5); and 3) Only because of God’s great gift me, can I re-gift love to others.
  • Our love should extend to everyone—even the unlovable.
  • To love the unlovable you must stay connected with God. You cannot be consumed with God and not love others.
  • God wants us to first love Him totally and then to be known for our love for others [“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).]

If God has poured His overflowing love into your heart, others can’t help getting hit by the splash.

How are you doing at loving those whom God loved enough to send His Son to die on their behalf?

2 Replies to "The Love of God"

  • Katie
    January 5, 2013 (4:40 pm)

    I really appreciated this post John. Great question at the end. I am not doing well at loving the couple people who are most hard to love in my life. Thank you for the challenge to love them not to benefit me, but to benefit them!

    • Dr. Jon Hanson
      January 14, 2013 (11:59 am)

      I pray for your success at loving them. I believe it is safe to say that most of us struggle in this area. The post was as much for me as anyone.

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