An amazing and compelling attribute of God is how He loves everyone. He is referred to as “the God of love” (II Cor. 13:11). He is so closely identified with love, the Bible says: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8).
The Bible emphasizes every dimension of His love:
1. God loves all of mankind.
The extent of God’s love is beyond our full comprehension. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). His concern for the welfare of humanity led the Father to give His Son in our place on the cross of Calvary so that the door to heaven would be open for us.
2. God loved ancient Israel.
Isaiah wrote, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses…In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:7, 9). The Lord’s care and provision for the Israelites teaches us about His great love.
3. God loves the church.
The value of the church is observed in the love which God has shown to it. Paul used the example of Jesus’ love for the church to illustrate the type of love a Christian husband should show to his wife. The Bible says: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Eph 5:25-28).
4. God loves those who give as He has given.
Paul urged the Christians at Corinth to freely give of their material means: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor 9:6-7). This passage does not mean we can buy God’s love, because no blessing of God is for sale (see Acts 8: 18-23; I Peter 1:18-19). Rather, God is truly pleased with those who understand the spiritual blessings to be derived from giving (see Acts 20:35).
5. God loves sinners.
Jesus was criticized for being kind to sinners (see Luke 15:1-2). His critics failed to see His real interest was not in encouraging them in their sin, but in demonstrating the love of God and His desire for them to leave their sin to serve Him. The Bible says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:6-9). Jesus came to save sinners (see Luke 19:10; I Tim. 1:15).
6. God loves those who are facing hardship.
The Lord may permit difficulties to come our way in order to develop patience and godliness, not because He lacks love. The Bible says, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb 12:5-6). When Jesus visited Lazarus’ tomb, He wept. “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” (John 11:36). He is compassionate because He knows our trials (see Heb. 4:15).
7. God loves you and me.
The Bible also teaches the Lord loves each one on a personal level. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
It is comforting that the Lord knows each one by name (see John 10:3, 14). And He writes the name of each saved one in the Book of Life (see Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3).
Genuine appreciation for God’s love will compel us – that is, “constrain us” – to obey Him (see II Cor. 5:14). Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).