Do you know how lovable you are? That is, how do you think others feel about you? Many people would say that on a scale of 1 to 100, they would probably fall somewhere between 65 and 80. But a better question might be: how loved are you? Our experience of love is not always indicative of our lovability. One of the first songs many of us learn as kids was “Jesus loves me, this I know.” We may have known that back then, but as you get older and become aware of your faults and imperfections, you may begin to wonder how true that is. If your knowledge of God’s love for you hasn’t changed your expectation and experience of life, then you don’t really know and understand God’s love.
Paul said, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God . Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:18-20) .
For this is how God loved the world: He gave His only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Here are three ways we commonly fail to fully understand God’s love:
- We underestimate God’s love for us.
But Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:13-14). This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
2. We overestimate our part in God loving us.
But the Bible tells us, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s love for us is not based on us. Rather, it is based on His ability to love; which is without limits. You are infinitely loved because God is love and loves infinitely. The worst parts of you do not tempt God to give up on you.
Rom. 5:8 explains, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves us anyway. God will only ever be loving towards you.
3. We underestimate the power of God’s love to change us.
In 1 John 4:16-21, we find, “God is love, and all who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”
So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love because he loved us first.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers (1 John 4:19 [MSG]). We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love.
And that brings us to the second song we probably learned as a child. “Oh, how I love Jesus. Because he first loved me.”
He loved us first.