By Patrick O’Rourke
1 John 4:8 says “God is love.” This is not to say that love is God, or that God is synonymous with love itself. John is saying that all love originates in God and comes out from God. It is one of His attributes, like all the rest of His attributes, that inform and work together with all the others.
Perhaps no attribute of God is more misunderstood or misapplied than God’s love. Some make God’s love feelingless, sterile, and harsh while others attempt to apply it where God doesn’t and make it soft, feeble, and fleeting. With the definition of love being that God eternally gives of Himself to others, we must conclude that love necessarily involves more than one person. And since God is love, He has to have been love from eternity past before anyone existed except Himself. This means that love was manifest between the persons of the Trinity before time began. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (john 17:24) From eternity past, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have been giving of themselves to each other in perfect love.
Not only does God give of Himself to Himself, God graciously gives of Himself to us. This is astonishing because while the members of the Trinity deserve each other’s love, we do not. There is absolutely no reason for God to give of Himself for us apart from His own pleasure and glory. But we read in 1 John 4:10 “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 also read in John 3:16 that God loved the world and gave His Son for it. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that the love of God was demonstrated in this: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If we ever forget or doubt the love of God toward His people, we only need to look at the cross.
God’s love is also personal, emotional, and intimate. Zephaniah 3:17 says “He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” His love is passionate, and many times God analogizes His love for His people to the love a husband feels for his bride. Not only is God’s love passionate, it is rooted in His character and the eternal work of the cross of Christ and cannot be broken. Paul says that nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s love. (Rom. 8:39)
If God is love and loves His children, how do we view the pain and difficulty in our lives? They must too be acts of God’s wise and deep love. Romans 8:28 reassures us that God works all things out for the good of those who love Him. All good, painful, difficult, and joyous circumstances in our life come out of the heart of a loving Father for our good and His glory.
God, you are love. Your love was demonstrated to us on the cross and you continue to give of Yourself to us. Strengthen us so that we may be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, a love that surpasses knowledge. May we see your love is all areas of our lives and help us to be loving like you are.