How does God love us? What are the expressions of God’s love? How does this affect our communication with other people? How can we love others truly and deeply by imitating God?
Thousands of books can be written on this because of the vastness and depth of God’s love and the manifold ways in which it manifests itself every day to every person. Here we will briefly address some of the most basic characteristics and expressions of God’s love in order to learn how to reflect this love in our relationships. Only God’s love enables us to love others truly, including those who irritate us and hurt us, even those we consider our enemies.
Characteristics of God’s Love
One of the most wonderful descriptions of God’s love is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, “the chapter of love”. When the Bible speaks of love as a noun, it refers to a character. Love is the essence of God’s character and personality. When talking about love as a verb, it refers to all the actions and manifestations of His character as an expression of His love. Here are some of the most distinctive features of God’s love:
- Pro-active and sacrificial. He loved us first. „This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us first and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.“ (1 John 4:10)
- Unconditional. In Christ, we are fully accepted and beloved forever. God’s love does not change because it does not depend on the object of love but on Him as the loving one. There is nothing to separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38-39)
- Secure and constant. The Eternal God loves us with eternal love. “Behold, I am with you all the days to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
- Non-compulsive and non-manipulating. God hates compulsion. God does not force anyone to enter into a relationship with Him. He is offering and inviting, drawing us to Himself.
- On the side of righteousness and truth. God’s love is based on truth and righteousness. God hates evil and loves good.
- With clear boundaries. God tells us in His word who He is, what He likes, what He hates, and where His boundaries are. God always gives us a choice, making clear the consequences of our actions in our relationship with Him.
Expressions of God’s love towards us
When Christ begins his public ministry, He cites an excerpt from Isaiah chapter 61. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19) This gives us a very good roadmap of the ways in which God expresses His love. He does so:
- By proclaiming the good news. God’s love brings good news. It brings a message of reconciliation, of a future and of hope. His love encourages and inspires.
- By binding up the broken hearts. God’s love brings healing. It is a balm for our wounds and broken hearts.
- By bringing freedom. God’s love is inextricably linked with deliverance from things that keep us imprisoned and prevents us from being truly ourselves and live fully. God’s love leads is in all truth.
- By assurance of God’s favor and His goodwill towards us, and by comforting us.
- By restoring joy. God’s love desires our best. His love seeks ways to heal our sorrows and give us joy. God wants to teach us each day to be happy and satisfied.
- By recovering and building us up. By His love, God is building us up. He re-builds the ruins of our life and heart. He restores our identity, our dignity, our hopes, our future, our joy, our relationships.
- By giving us meaning, purpose, mission and direction. God makes us His priests and servants. Through us, He shows His love and re-builds the ruins – in families, generations, and relationships.
- By giving us an eternal inheritance. He makes us His heirs (of the earth and His kingdom).
- By blessing us.
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Expressions of God’s love in our relationships
The above description gives us a brief picture and guidance on the basic ways in which we can express God’s love in our relationships. We show love every time we choose to:
- Reach out – to seek a resolution to interpersonal conflicts, to forgive wholeheartedly, to refrain from holding a grudge and malice, anger and bitterness.
- Encourage and build up, instead of criticizing, complaining and hurting.
- Give hope and be proclaimers of good news, of God’s love and kindness.
- Bind up and bring healing with our words and actions, not hurt.
- Not to enslave, manipulate, force, control, abuse, and exonerate others.
- Assure others in God’s love and in our love.
- Establish healthy boundaries in our relationships. To show and communicate clearly what we accept and what not. What we want to give and what not.
- Tell the truth with love. To confront each other, when necessary.
- Separate ourselves from evil.
- Bring joy, to comfort.
- Say words and take action that builds up, and not destroy.
- Bless and pray for others.
- Share time and resources with others in the boundaries, in which we want and we are able to.
Living expressions of God’s love
We are born of love and created for love. From the beginning to the end God draws us to Himself and His love. Once believing and accepting His love, we discover each day the depth, width, and vastness of this love. We become living examples of God’s benevolence – sought after and found, not abandoned, redeemed, forever His. His love makes its way into the hardened places of our hearts and expands them. This way we not only accept more of this transforming love but also can give it abundantly.
Which expression of God’s love makes you feel the most loved? In which ways can you show love to the people around you? You are welcome to share and comment!