When I think about how to sum up who God is in a single phrase, “unconditional love” comes to mind. Of course, God is many things and cannot be confined to one phrase or term, but as we know from 1 John 4:8, God is love. That is His very nature; it is intrinsic to who He is. It is one of His fundamental character traits. While that doesn’t mean that He loves everything we do—we are sinners, after all—nor that He overlooks or turns a blind eye to our sin or wrongdoing, nonetheless He loves His children unconditionally and forgives us if we are humble enough to ask Him to.
God’s unconditional love for us is worth thinking about. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life and forget some of the fundamental truths that bring us joy, peace, and confidence as Christians. The nature of God’s love, its unconditionality and universality, is truly a wonderful thing. Too often, the love we see in society is predicated on the value that the other person provides, and when that value ceases or is no longer needed, the love fades with it. Not so with God’s love. He delights in our company and wants to befriend us. God’s deep and abiding love motivates His continual call to each human being He has created, inviting them into relationship with Him.
When I reflect on Jesus’ love for me, it takes me to a place of gratefulness, humility, and awe. It makes me want to be more like Jesus. More kindhearted to others. More generous. More thoughtful. More unconditional in my love for others, loving and respecting them as human beings created in His image regardless of their circumstances.1 That’s a tall order, as we are fallible humans and unable to show unfailing love to others in the same way God does to us. Yet we’re called to be like Christ, and that includes emulating His nature and doing our best to give the gift of His unconditional love to those around us.
As Christians, we should be striving to be more like Jesus in every way, which includes strengthening our “unconditional love” muscles. Let’s look at three steps we can take to grow in this area of our spiritual lives.
Start with yourself. Knowing how completely God loves each of us despite our faults, flaws, and failings provides us with the assurance that we are loved, valued, cherished, and forever one of God’s children. From this place of strength, we are better able to love others. If you don’t feel that you are loved unconditionally by God, it will be very difficult for you to offer His love and support to someone else.
Action: Accept God’s unconditional love for you. Admit your limitations and weaknesses, and rejoice in God’s promise that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”2
The closer we are to Jesus, the more we can be a conduit of God’s love flowing through us to those around us. “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”3
Action: Keep close to Jesus through regular time spent in prayer and reading His Word. Ask for a renewed infilling of the Holy Spirit.
When we meditate on God’s love, it puts us in a spiritually healthy place. When we dwell on God’s love and the ultimate sacrifice that He made in sending Jesus to die for our sins to reconcile us to Him, we gain motivation to follow Him more closely, to overcome sin, and to allow His Spirit to guide us and empower us to serve Him. “People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things.”4
Action: Spend more time with Jesus so that your mind is set more “on what the Spirit desires.” This will naturally lead you to behave more like Jesus. I find regularly reading 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 to be very helpful in redirecting my thoughts and reactions to be more loving and led of God’s Spirit.
We who have been born again through receiving Jesus as our Savior are so richly blessed. We have been given so much—forgiveness of our sins, eternal life, and God’s unconditional love, help, and guidance. As we grow in God’s love, we can in turn encourage our brothers and sisters in the Lord and help to bring others closer to Him. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” I want to be “born of God.” I truly desire to know God, and God’s Word tells us that loving one another is a path to that aim.
1. See Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17.
2. 2 Corinthians 12:9
3. Romans 5:5 NIV
4. Romans 8:5 CEV