February 23 – Love of God

February 23 – Love of God

Matthew 22:27

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” (Matthew 22:37)

Christ tells us that this is the supreme objective: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37). This is the first command, first in importance, and the greatest, superseding all others as the controlling authority of life. Thus the Old Testament command (Deut. 6:5) identified by the teachers of Israel as the ultimate, comprehensive summary of God’s will for man was affirmed by Jesus the Messiah as the most important commandment of all.

How does a mere human being love the infinite God? By the loving adoration of worship, by unceasing thanksgiving, by a life of steadfast obedience, by sharing his companionship and exulting in the endless profusion of his gifts. This is the goal of creation and redemption: to love God. Not so much to find my fulfillment, but to find his, to bring him joy, to seek his purposes, to do his will.

Indeed, to love God is the first and great commandment, but it is not the only commandment. The “law and the prophets” do not depend on this alone. There is another commandment. And, in truth, one cannot obey the first without obeying the second (Matt. 22:34-40; 1 John 3:11-18; 4:19–5:1 5:1). But how do we understand love?

“God is love,” says John (1 John 4:8, 16). This is the basic difference between the biblical concept of love and our concept of love. The Bible defines love by the nature of God. We tend to define love by the nature of man.

To say that God is love does not mean that God equals love. Love does not describe God exhaustively. He has other qualities, such as wisdom and strength; but this does not mean that those characteristics in God’s nature violate love. God always acts lovingly, even in judgment.

Again, “God is love” does not mean that love equals God. Love is not an entity, having existence as an object, let alone having personality. To say that love and God are equivalent would deify love and make it some absolute concept to which God himself is subject and by which he could be judged. Both situation ethics and Christian Science would tend to do this. Rather, love gains whatever stature it has because God is that way. He forms the concept by his nature. He is the source of all true love (1 John 4:7, 19). Since God himself defines love, true human love is godlikeness (1 John 4:16).

God was not obliged to love by some external “ought.” Loving is the way he is. This is one of the greatest evidences for the Trinity. God the Father loves God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from all eternity. God the Son loves the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Son and the Father. Thus, by love they are bound, and only out of love for others was that unity broken at the Cross when, by the power of the Spirit, the Son assumed our guilt, and the Father turned away in judicial rejection from part of his very being.

The loving nature of God is the basis for his creative and redeeming activity. He created man because he is love and desired a being designed on his own pattern so that he could love that creature and be freely loved in return. When man rejected this loving approach of God, breaking that relationship, God continued loving because God is love by nature. And so we have the story of redemption. Love became incarnate. Thus, all of life finds meaning in being loved by God and loving him.

By his life, Jesus demonstrated flawlessly how godlike love behaves, and in his death he demonstrated the ultimate proof of love. He was our model—we can now see how we are to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). We now can see what it means to have the kind of mind-set that was his who “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8, NIV). “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Throughout the New Testament Christ’s love is given as our model: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

All of Christ’s life puts on display God’s loving character, but the Cross of Christ demonstrates the love of God more clearly than any other act of any other person in all history.

Christ himself is the perfect, living model of God’s character; but God graciously re-creates that character in other people who, in turn, demonstrate true love. In fact, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). [10]

Do you know His love? Do you trust His love? Can you walk in and display His love?

[10] Introduction to Biblical Ethics (IBE), Robertson McQuilkin, (2014), 43.

Scroll to top