I was at a friend’s house over the weekend for breakfast and afterwards watched his little 4-year old boy plumb the depths of despair and rise to the heights of elation, back and forth, in literally less than a second. His roller-coaster emotions depended entirely on the pressure of water coming from the water hose pipe he was holding during a garden-based water fight. His little facial expressions were genius!
I read something yesterday, just one sentence in a devotional by a well known guy/ministry, that provoked the exact same response in my heart – in my spirit it made me say….yes! and then very quickly after….no! As I thought about it more and talked a bit about it, it started to bother me even more because I know the error in the sentence can have a monumentally massive bearing on the life of a believer who receives it as truth.
The sentence was simply,
“You may like someone because of who he is; but you love him because of who you are. (GREAT) God loves us not because we are lovable, but because God is love. (NOT GREAT)”
Part A of that short paragraph is a great point – our love for others can be more about our decision to love them than it might be about their loveliness. We can choose to love people in addition to feeling love for them and Jesus certainly loves us unconditionally through absolutely no merit of our own – Jesus’ love for us is more about Him being the God of love than it is us the loved of God. Perhaps the writer was not saying that we aren’t lovable to God, but rather that it’s primarily about His choice to love us than our loveliness that is the point.
But part B of the sentence can easily cause subtle misunderstandings about God that will rob you of the fullness of life in Him if you don’t trust in your loveliness to Him – how He really feels about you. Let me try and explain, if I may.
If we equate the truth that God loving us unconditionally because of Jesus’ work on the cross with the idea that He only loves us because of what He achieved for us there, (our sanctificatoin/justification/glorification) we will struggle in loving God whole-heartedly in life. Our heart will be locked in darkness. The cross is the most glorious reality which makes us right with God, (Romans 3: 22-26), & makes us acceptable to Him in His righteousness. But He loved us before the cross (Jn. 3:16); He was besotted with us before the cross; it was ‘For the joy set before Him that He endured the cross’ (Heb.12:2).
The nature of God is very much misunderstood if you do do not know that you are lovable to Him or if you don not feel lovable to Him. Mike Bickle says,
Our greatest emotional need is to know that we are enjoyed by God even in our weakness
Let me just say now, you are lovable, you are lovely to God, beyond your wildest dreams. His affections, His emotions and thoughts about you outnumber the grains of sand on the sea-shore (Psalm 139); He is a jealous Lover of you, He is moved by your affections for Him (James 4:5; Songs 1:5); He calls you Hephzibah because you are His delight (Isa. 62:4). God doesn’t just find you lovely but He is in love with You. He is your Bridegroom; You are His Bride. He is Your Husband. This is why marriage is under such threat in society today – because it is a parable pointing to the greatest reality in that God is besotted with you, and that dark are you, yet lovely (Songs.1:5).
It is this reality of knowing you are lovely to Him (despite your darkness) and feeling lovable in Him (despite your darkness) that will unlock the intimate places of your heart to love Him as you should – with all of your heart and mind and might (Matthew 22:37).