“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
IT SHOULD BE STRENGTHENING TO US TO KNOW THAT WE ARE SURROUNDED BY THE LIMITLESS LOVE OF GOD. As our Creator, He is able to love us with a love that is infinite. We cannot understand it completely or respond to it fully. Even if, like our antediluvian ancestors, we were to live hundreds of years upon the earth and love God as Enoch and Noah did, we could not learn to love God with the same love that He has for us. But this fact should not discourage us. It should challenge us in a most delightful way. Although we can’t love God as He loves us, we can learn to love Him more and more as time goes by. No matter how much of God’s love we learn to enjoy, there will always be much more waiting for us up ahead. His love is boundless and inexhaustible.
One thing we should try to keep clear is that whatever love we show toward God is always a response. It is God who has taken the initiative. As John wrote, “We love Him because He first loved us.” This means that our love for God must always be offered in profound humility. If He had not first reached across the chasm and extended love to us, it would be futile for us to love Him. As Paul said, Christ died for us “when we were still without strength” (Romans 5:6). And so John could say, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
The surest way for us to grow in our love for God is to meditate on the depth of His love for us. The knowledge of God’s love is a compelling force: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). In the end, faithful service must always spring from fervent love. If we have even the smallest fraction of the love for our Lord that He has shown toward us, we will not be content to love Him with anything less than all our hearts.
“Our soul is Christ’s bride and loves him ardently. But even when she thinks she is completely in love, she feels that her love is inadequate because she is loved so much. And that is true. How could she love as much in return? God loves with all his being” (Bernard of Clairvaux).