March 12, 2017

Unconditional love

Yesterday we welcomed a new family member, a great-grandson who was born very early in the morning. The photos of him and his very excited parents are a blessing and a reminder of the love of God. Immediately, our family loves that little babe. He cannot love back at this point, but because we love him, he will likely love us.

For most parents, no matter what our children choose or do, loving them is automatic. I realize this is not true in some cases, yet the children who are loved usually love others. Our love might falter, but this is the best human example I can think of that is like the love of God:

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

The love of God goes beyond our ability because His love has no limitations or restrictions. It is not affected by our failures and foolish behavior. This is illustrated in the story of Hosea. He was told to marry a prostitute, an adulterous woman. How would this godly man respond?

Then God told Hosea that He would “hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them.”

With God putting a hedge around her, she would say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’

God then said that she did not know that it was Him “who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.” He said He would take back His grain in its time, and His wine in its season, and also take away His wool and flax which were to cover her nakedness and uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one would rescue her out of His hand.

He told Hosea, “I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me.”

Then the Lord said, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”

God had a plan. He would remove from her the idols she worshiped, even their names from her mouth and their memory from her mind . . . all of this to illustrate to His unfaithful people that because of His great love He would: “abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:6–20)

Such is the love of God. This powerful illustration in the marriage of Hosea was like His love for His people. Hosea, unlike most husbands, stuck with her. Most would never put up with her unfaithfulness before their love grew cold. This example shows that God’s love is not about what we do. It is not from anything outside of Himself, but about His character and certainly not our worth or deservedness.

While I have not done what Hosea’s wife did, there are days when my failures make me feel unlovable and worthless. Over and over, I need to remember that God loves me. I also need to remember that it is the Liar, my spiritual enemy, who does not want me to believe that. I cannot imagine what Hosea went through as God commanded him to love someone like his unfaithful wife, but I can imagine what the wife experienced as she realized that no matter what she did, this love was not going away. Because that kind of love did not depend on her worth, her heart was set free. She didn’t need to seek love from any other source because she was already loved, without any reservations.

Lord Jesus, this love compelled the Father to send You into this world. This love put You on the Cross to die for us. This love never changes and always blesses me. Hosea’s wife did not have to run after all the wrong things to find love. Neither does anyone else. We are loved by God and your love is enough!

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