What Is God’s Love Like?

Bill Thrasher
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We must turn to the Scriptures to truly understand love. True love is found in and expressed by God. Two great verses in John’s first epistle declare that truth:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7, all italics added)

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

God’s Love is Unlike Any Other

God is careful to tell us that His love is more faithful and more compassionate than even a mother’s love for her nursing baby.

“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’

“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (Isaiah 49:14–16)

The Bible depicts love in a poignant way in Genesis after God instructs Abraham to obey an unusual request: “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you” (Genesis 22:2).

This verse tells us of a father’s love and delight in a son. It also prepares us to learn of our loving heavenly Father who demonstrated His love by sacrificing His beloved Son for us in our need. He has not only spoken of His love but has “manifested” it to us and demonstrated it by sending His Son to bear the punishment of our sin that we deserved.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“We know love by this, that [Christ] laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

He is not only the source of all love—“Love is from God” (1 John 4:7)—but His very essence is described as love— “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

God’s Attributes Help Us Understand His Love

God’s love is the attribute that manifests itself in His desire and delight in His creation, the provision of personal fellowship with Himself, and His joy in giving of His Son for our eternal benefit. The apostle Paul fittingly described this attribute as a “great love” (Ephesians 2:4).

The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

If it is correctly understood, you can never overestimate God’s love. His other attributes help us to understand it.

  • His love is eternal. It is called everlasting in Jeremiah 31:3.
  • His love is infinite. Note how God’s love is personalized in Galatians 2:20, as Paul describes the Father as the one “who loved me.” Because God has no limits, He can love you as if you were the only person in the world and not take His attention away from anyone else.
  • His love is holy. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6), and He does so “for our good, so that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10; see also Revelation 3:19).
  • His love is faithful. You can know and trust the love that God has for us (1 John 4:16) because you cannot be separated from it (Romans 8:38–39) and He will love us “to the end” (John 13:1).
  • His love is sovereign. On the basis of His love, He chooses (Deuteronomy 4:37), appoints authority (2 Chronicles 2:11), and even overrules what people mean for curses and turns them into blessings (Deuteronomy 23:5).
  • His love is righteous. It is a righteous love because He is righteous and loves righteousness (Psalm 11:7).
  • His love is gracious. It is a gracious love as He even loves us in our sin (Hosea 3:1; Romans 5:8).

You cannot overemphasize love if it is correctly understood.

For Further Reading:

God as He Wants You to Know Him

by Bill Thrasher

Every believer has a need for an understanding of systematic theology, but very few theology books present material in a personal, devotional...

book cover for God as He Wants You to Know Him