He has given us a whole book in the Bible that is about love. The Song of Solomon tells a story of love lost and found again; of a lovesick heart made joyful.
It helps us see what true love is, for it is only when we have seen that that we can begin to understand what God means when He says, "I love you."
As noted below in a separate post God's love refers to different things. In this post we considering what it means to the believer.
The familiar words of John 3 16 teach us several important truths about God's love in salvation that we should be convinced of. We'll look at each of them in turn over the next few days:
God's love in Salvation is a Sovereign Love
"For God so loved…"
The verse starts off with God because God's love starts off with God. Not with us. Nothing in you caused Him to love you. Quite simply, he chose to. Paul shows us this in Ephesians.
1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.God is sovereign, and God's love is sovereign. God is under no obligation to love any person.
Ephesians 2:3 Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
We are so used to our ideas of love. A girl looks at a boy and sees something in him she likes, likes a lot, and because of that she falls in love. Our love is called into being by something in the other person, something that attracts us, something that pleases us, something that delights us. But the love of God is free, spontaneous, uncaused. Think about that for a minute.
God loves you just because He loves you
Great comfort in this. God didn't see how loveable I was and then set his love on me. He loved me when I was unlovable. There was nothing attractive about me. In fact we were positively unattractive, repulsive to God.
And when our verse tells us that "God so loved the world" it isn't telling us about the vastness of God's love, although it is vast. It isn't the bigness of the world that is in view, but the badness of it. John uses the word 'world' to refer to mankind set against God, intent on disobeying him.
God loved us while we were sinners. God loved us before we looked to him. God loved us while we were disobedient. God's love is sovereign. That doesn't give us an excuse to do what we like, but it does mean that when you fall, God doesn't say, "Oh so that s what you're really like, well if that's the case then I don't love you any more." He knew what you were like anyhow. Nothing comes as a surprise to him.
I find it hard enough to grasp that my wife loves me, and even though she knew what I was like before she married me, I'm amazed that she still went ahead and married me. But to know that God knows exactly what I am like, right to the very recesses of the darkest corner of my imagination, and to know that although he doesn't like what he sees, nevertheless he has chosen to lone me - it is beyond understanding.
God the sovereign King has chosen to love you. His love for me, and for you, is not based on our attractiveness. And it does not depend on you being loveable. He has chosen to love and that's just it.
Grasping this is the first step for the believers to living confidently in God's unfailing love.