The answer is simple according to scripture yet mankind gives a variety of answers to this question. For a moment consider the following questions as we look at who God loves.
Does God love me if I suffer?
Does God love me when I sin?
What is God’s love like?
Can I earn God’s love?
Does God’s love change?
These and other questions pop into our heads as we contemplate the question, “Who Does God Love?” In order to properly answer the question, we need to define what love is.
Some people believe the love of God is selective. They believe that they somehow deserve God’s love, unlike others they don’t think qualify. This is not only sad but, worse, it’s false and distorts who God is.
1 John 4:16 reminds us that God IS love. There is no selectivity in regard to God’s love. Since He is love, when we define love we must remember that God is nothing but love. That may raise more questions but let’s start there.
God is love. He actually loves you and me. He loves everyone because that’s who He is. The word used by the Apostle John that we translate “love” is “agape”. This is not the most common understanding of the word “love”. We use love indiscriminately to describe our feelings for everything from ice cream to a puppy. Agape is far from an emotional feeling of comfort or pleasure. Agape is a word that describes 100% giving of self without expectation of return.
The apostle Paul wrote that God loved us all even when we were his enemies. How’s that for love? Read the fifth chapter of Romans and you will quickly see that God is love. Each and every human being has chosen to be an enemy of God by denying who he is but “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God’s love is complete. It has no weakness and is not partial in any way. You may not agree because you have suffered, or may be suffering even as we speak. “How is God loving me when I feel so much pain?” That is a fair question but understand that God, being love, permits things to happen so that we might know his care and his wisdom. Pain does not indicate a lack of love. God is not the originator of your pain but he will use it to draw you into a close relationship with Him. In his infinite wisdom and love He knows just how much you can handle. Trust him. There is more to your story than what is obvious.
Another question that we may ask is, “Does God love me when I sin?” God is not fickle like we are. I have counseled so many people who claim that they don’t love their spouse anymore. We may choose to love someone like we choose a car to buy. Based on physical or emotional attraction, humans love one another. God is not like that. He loves in spite of what we are like because He is love. No matter how much a person sins or the nature of a sin committed, God loves each and every person. Think of a person that has hurt you. God loves them. He really does. His love does not lessen because of what they did. In fact, HIS love, rather than our own frail effort, is what He calls us to give back to those who hurt us.
It is a sad fact that many many people think that they can earn God’s love. As we discussed earlier, God is not like us. He loves us, period. What we do, good or bad, will never cause him to love us more or less. God is not influenced by anything except his own character. Jesus said that God loved the world so much that he gave (John 3:16). The true test of real love is that it gives. God gives. Therefore, he loves. Earning God’s love is not possible because he loves you unconditionally. Remember the word agape? It’s the word that Jesus used to describe God’s love. His love is universal and complete. No amount of things we do could ever merit the love of God and nothing that we do, no matter how horrible, could keep Him from loving us.
The vital question we can ask ourselves is not whether God loves us, but whether or not WE love GOD. Recently I read how someone claimed God’s love while they rebelliously continued to sin. There is undoubtedly truth in her statement. God DOES love her, but does she love God when she ignores what God says and continues to do what she wants? She only hurts herself because she separates herself from God. You see, our love for ourselves gets in the way of receiving God’s love. Unfortunately countless people reject God’s love. To do so is not only self-defeating but will result in the worst kind of eternity; an existence separated from God. You see, receiving and experiencing God’s love is our choice. Perhaps an illustration would help.
Say that a young woman discovers that she is loved by a young man. She may enjoy knowing that, and may tell all her friends that this young man loves her, but, if she rejects a relationship with him, both will suffer. The young man will continue loving her, but have to endure the pain of her rejection, and she will never experience his love, and eventually pass into eternity without him. His LOVE would be unconditional, but a RELATIONSHIP that would benefit the object of his love would never materialize. This reality is no less true of our choice before a God who loves us.
A Man once asked Jesus what the most important commandment is. Jesus answered, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Mark 22:37, 38). All of us, quite frankly, love ourselves more than we love God. Jesus also said, “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil” (John 3:19). To love God is to believe who he is and enter into a relationship with Him. In other words, each day we say, “God, you love me. You are good. You care for me and You have my best interests at heart in all situations. I will trust you through every difficulty. I will learn of you. I will receive from You. I know you love me.”
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