How do we know what God’s love is like? Well, we need only look at Jesus Christ.
According to 1 John 3:16 (not John 3:16, although that will come up later), “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.”
What a revelation. We could probably stop there. But there are plenty of other passages in the Bible that talk about God’s love. And the Bible speaks to us about it all the time. In fact, it says “God is love” in 1 John 4:8.
His love is good, that much is true. But it’s also different to the love we get from humans. In this blog we’ll look at just some of the exciting ways God’s love is portrayed in Scripture. We hope the passages below strengthen your relationship with God today.
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God’s love is unconditional
There’s one thing about God’s love that is true across the board; it is unconditional. One of the best verses to explore this is John 3:16. It’s often used to sum up the whole gospel.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
It’s amazing that He did all this before we’d done anything. ‘God so loved the world’ that He offered the ultimate sacrifice. We haven’t done anything to earn it. But it is freely given by the grace of God.
This isn’t just because God felt like it. It’s in His nature to love us. As we mentioned above, in 1 John 4:8 it says, “God is love”. John Piper says, “God’s nature is such that in His fullness He needs nothing (Acts 17:25) but rather overflows in goodness. It is His nature to love.”
An everlasting love
God is an everlasting, unchanging God and so His love follows suit. The Psalms speak of God’s love extensively; we find one of the greatest promises about God expressed in Psalm 136: His “love endures forever”. This is a great comfort for anyone who has experienced fickle or conditional expressions of love. God’s love never ends.
Psalm 36:5-6 poetically expresses what God’s love looks like, saying “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” In Jeremiah 31:3, God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” and Paul in Romans 8:35-39 asks the rhetorical question, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Paul responds with this great passage that should fill us with courage: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Wow. That’s a love like no other.
A fatherly love or agape love
Throughout the Bible, God is consistently referred to as Father. The original Greek word for this kind of fatherly love is Agapē. It’s not like the love of a human father; selective and fallible. This love is totally reliable, which should be a great comfort particularly to those who may not have had the best experience with earthly fathers.
This type of love is kind, compassionate and merciful. In 1 John 3:1 we read, “see what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God”. Zephaniah 3:17 has the words, “He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing”. He delights in us and calls us children. Who are we that we are called children of God? If you’ve ever lacked a sense of belonging, know that you belong to God, the creator of the universe.
Other passages that express this love include John 15:9-10, where Jesus tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” God provides the best model of love and the best news is we begin to imitate this when we spend time in God’s presence.
It is also a faithful love that protects us and is with us always. We should be encouraged by passages like Joshua 1:9, which says, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”. In Psalm 23:6 we find the promise, “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life”.
God’s love is a fierce love
God’s love has multiple facets and whilst it is kind and gentle, it is also fierce. Throughout Scripture God’s love is characterised by His opposition to that which threatens His glory.
This should reassure us because God is on our side. He wants the best for us and will protect us. He hates that which opposes His reign and His plans as we read in Psalm 5:11, “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You”.
True love is fierce, it protects those it loves and doesn’t let anything get in the way. God is referred to as a “consuming fire” in Hebrews 12:29; in the end He will consume that which corrupts humanity. Proverbs 15:9 uses equally strong language when it says, “The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness”.
This passion and zeal should be a comfort as we know that this same passion is directed towards us.
Jesus is God’s love in action
The greatest example of God’s love? The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We mentioned it at the start because this is how we know what love is. That Jesus Christ would die for us. This sacrificial love is driven by that fierce passion we looked at earlier.
1 John 4:9-10 says, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. We’re free to live in eternity with God because anything that was in the way has now been washed away.
In Jesus we see not only this sacrificial love in action, we also see that God’s love is experienced in relationship with Jesus. Life comes from Him. The fullest life is experienced when you are loved by God. Ephesians 2:4-5 expands on this, saying, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.
Grace. That’s what God’s love is.
How do we respond to God’s love?
You may now be thinking: how do I respond to this love? What can I give in return?
The truth is, we can never match the love of God but that is no barrier to our relationship with Him. What we can give Him is our hearts.
We can do this by showing our love towards others. There are many passages in the Bible that talk about how God’s love emanates from His love for us, to the world around us. Jesus commands us in John 15:12 to “love each other as I have loved you”.
We must love others with a merciful, sacrificial, fierce, unconditional love. And in doing this we will be showing others the love of God.
If you want to find out more about God’s love for you, why not try Glorify. There are new devotionals every day to help you connect with God on a deeper level.
Featured Image: Aaron Burden