“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
Most of us think that we really understand the love of God, but our experience proves otherwise. We feel lonely, depressed, discouraged, and defeated. Every one of these negative emotions would be turned to positive by a proper revelation of God’s love for us.
As for loving others, most of us would admit there are some people who are very difficult to love. Since we do not fully understand God’s love for us, we fail in loving others. We can’t give away what we don’t have. If we receive a full revelation of God’s love for us, it becomes easy to love others with the love that we have received.
When we struggle to believe that God’s promises to us will come to pass, that’s unbelief; but the root of that unbelief is a lack of love. Galatians 5:6 says faith works by love. That means love is the driving force behind our faith. Remove or diminish love, and faith ceases to be what it should be. Many of us try hard to believe when we should be seeking a greater revelation of God’s love for us. Then, faith would just naturally work.
Just a few months after Jamie and I were married, we were in a desperate situation. I had quit my job, believing that the Lord wanted me to go into full-time ministry. The result was that we were hurting financially. It had been days since we had eaten. We had nothing but a few Cokes that a friend had given us and a bag of Fritos that we had been rationing out. Our faith was beginning to waver. We were fighting with all we had, to believe that the Lord was going to supply our needs, but our circumstances and empty bellies were screaming unbelief at us.
One morning, Jamie took our last fifty cents and our car and drove to the laundry mat to do some laundry. While she was gone, I did some serious business with the Lord. I was crying and saying, “Lord, I don’t understand. I would give my right arm to feed Jamie. I believe You love us more than I love Jamie, and yet You aren’t taking care of us.” I had let circumstances blind me to God’s love. That’s the main reason my faith wasn’t working.
The Lord spoke Luke 12:32 to me very clearly. That verse says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Suddenly, I realized my unbelief was because I had forgotten how much God loves us. God delights in our prosperity (Ps. 35:27). He gets no pleasure from watching us starve. As the revelation of God’s love for us came flooding over me, all doubt that our needs would be supplied was instantly gone. When Jamie returned from doing the laundry, I told her that we were going to eat meat that day.
We had Fritos and Coke for lunch. We skipped supper because we were tired of Fritos and Coke. At church, a friend asked us to stop by his apartment after the service. We thought, “Maybe they are going to feed us.” We stayed and talked for over an hour, but there was no food. As we were leaving, however, the man gave us loads of fish that he had caught. He also gave us all the vegetables to go with them. We rushed home, and Jamie fixed us a feast. Just a few minutes prior to midnight, we ate meat to our fill. The next day was my birthday, and a woman in the church gave us a large box full of porterhouse steaks. We went from a starvation diet of Fritos and Coke, to having enough steaks for a month in just a matter of hours because love made my faith work.
When our friend gave us the fish that evening, he told us that he had sent his wife by our apartment earlier that morning to deliver the food. Our car was gone, though; so she supposed we were not there and didn’t stop. The only time that car was gone all day long was when Jamie went to wash clothes and I was praying in that apartment. At the exact moment that I got a new and fresh revelation of God’s love for us, our supply came through. It took us a few hours to see it, but God moved instantly. He wanted to supply our need more than we wanted Him to. My lack of faith in His love hindered Him. As soon as I opened up to His love, my faith revived and He supplied.
There is more than just a superficial knowledge that God loves us. In Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul prayed that the Ephesians would get a greater revelation of God’s love for them. He said, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).
Notice in verse 18 that God’s love isn’t just one-dimensional. There is height, depth, length, and breadth to it. Many Christians only see God’s love as they would see a painting, in one-dimension. They’ve never seen the multi-dimensional reality of God’s love.
In verse 19, Paul said as we experience God’s love, which is superior to mere knowledge of God’s love, then we would be filled with all the fullness of God. What a statement! Are you lacking in any area of your life? If so, you lack a revelation of God’s love. Experiencing God’s love equals fullness.
I’ve said all of this to say that a deep revelation of God’s love for us is the most important thing we can receive. First Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (God’s kind of love).
There are many ways that Satan uses to try to block the revelation of God’s love for us. One of the most subtle, and therefore the most deadly, ways is that he has deceived us into thinking that God’s love for us is tied to our performance. We think we have to do something to earn God’s love. We have to merit God’s love. That is not what the Bible teaches.
In the natural world, you get what you deserve. Employers don’t hire you based on their love for you. You have to perform. If you perform badly, you are punished or fired. The same thing is true in most relationships. I’ve had hundreds of married couples essentially tell me, “They don’t deserve my love.” However, the nearly-too-good-to-be-true news of the Gospel is that we don’t get what we deserve. Praise the Lord!
Religion is one of the biggest propagators of the conditional-love-of-God lie. Most “Christian churches” teach that God’s love for us is conditional, based on our performance. If we pray, go to church, pay our tithes, etc., then the Lord loves us and answers our prayers; but if we fail, then the Lord won’t answer our prayers. That’s not true.
God’s love for us is unconditional. That is, God doesn’t love us because of some virtue we possess. God loves us because “God is love” (1 John 4:8), not because we are lovely.