God's Unconditional Love
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Everyone wants to be cherished. But human devotion isn’t always dependable. Even the most stable relationships change over time, according to how the lovers feel, the way they treat each other, and whether life is stressful or not.
We can be thankful that God’s love is quite different. Let’s look at a few principles that describe His amazing affection for people.
1. God’s love is intrinsic to His nature. First John tells us that God is the source of love (4:7). It also reveals that love is not only one of the Creator’s fundamental character traits; He is love in His very being (v. 4:8).
- When you think of the Lord, do you picture Him as loving? Explain.
Contrary to the world’s mindset, the fact that “God is love” does not mean He “winks at” or excuses sin (Rom. 6:23). However, He forgives us if we are humble enough to ask.
2. God’s love is universal. He has compassion on both believers and unbelievers.
While on earth, Jesus perfectly illustrated the Father’s nature and character. One surprising fact is that He befriended “tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). These two groups of people were despised and avoided by godly Jews of Jesus’ day. Why? Tax collectors often exploited their fellow countrymen by requiring more payment than was actually due to Rome. “Sinners” were those who scoffed at God’s law, failed to participate in temple rituals, and/or made money by sinful means. Jesus didn’t just preach to these people—He actually enjoyed their company, and they enjoyed His.
- According to John 3:16, what motivated God to send Jesus to earth?
- Has God given you a love for those who don’t yet know Him? If not, ask Him to fill you with a genuine love for them and to show you how to share His love.
3. God’s love is unconditional. Unlike earthly affection, His love doesn’t fluctuate. The Father doesn’t care for us more when we have pleased Him or less when we have failed or sinned.
- After a period of spiritual dryness, do you have less confidence that God will answer your prayers because you don’t “deserve” His blessing?
- Do you believe that your performance makes the Father love you more? Explain.
- What encouragement does Romans 5:8 offer to those who feel God loves them less when they fail?
4. God’s love is sacrificial. Jesus Christ surrendered His life on the cross so that we might have eternal life and enjoy fellowship with God while we are still living on earth. Jesus’ motivation was love for mankind.
- John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” What was Jesus trying to tell His disciples?
- How does our Savior’s description of love contrast with the world’s?
- How does the concept of sacrificial love encourage you to relate differently to those you love the most?
5. God’s love is contagious. When we walk in close fellowship with Christ, God’s love flows through us to those around us. The Holy Spirit fills us so that we can extend unconditional love to others (Rom. 5:5).
- “The one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). What do you think it means to “abide in love”?
- Does this phrase describe you? Why or why not?
First Peter 4:8 says, “Keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
- What do you think it means to “cover” someone’s sin with love?
Far from excusing a person’s sin or pretending it doesn’t exist, covering another’s wrongdoing with love means that we show mercy, speak the truth, and forgive so that the sinner will be healed, much like a nurse tenderly bandages a wound.
- What are some of the benefits of love “covering the sins” of your family, co-workers, or fellow church members?
- What wrongdoing of another could you cover in love this week?
6. God’s love is motivating. When we learn to set our minds on God’s affection, we have a greater ability to overcome sin. Instead of indulging fleshly desires, we allow His Spirit to guide us (Rom. 8:5).
Sin is often an attempt to meet legitimate needs apart from God. This means at the root of almost every transgression is a genuine need for comfort, peace, acceptance, approval, love, etc.
- Think about one of your habitual sins. What needs do you attempt to fulfill through that sin?
Ask God to show you how to let His love satisfy those needs in a healthy way. (If the desire cannot be met legitimately, ask Him to remove the ungodly urge completely. He may not remove it immediately, however, if He wants to help you learn humility and dependence upon Him to resist temptation.)
- Sometimes we make excuses for our sin, saying things such as “I’m under a lot of pressure right now, and I just couldn’t help it.” What does Romans 8:35-37 say about the power of Christ’s love?
Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing love You extend toward me. Forgive me for not believing the truth about who You are. I pray for a life-transforming revelation of Your affection for me, that I might relate to You and others in a fresh way. Amen.