The Directional Love of God
Faithlessness toward God is why the people of Israel were acting faithlessly toward each other. As their spiritual adultery continued to blacken their hearts, they lost all motivation to love or serve anyone but themselves. This was no accident. God has designed his love for his people to produce love for him and love for others. So if we love God, it’s only because he loved us first (1 John 4:19). And then like a channel redirecting the course of a river, God’s love flows through us to other people. It is a “down and out” sort of love, beginning with God, realized in us, and then extended to others.
This is why the two greatest commandments are (1) love God with all our being and (2) love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:26-40). They are linked because true love for God always results in love shown to others. It works in reverse, too. A failure to love others is the key sign that we don’t truly love God, no matter what we say with our lips. That’s why John the apostle writes, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
How to Grow in Love
It is impossible to become more loving toward God or others unless you begin with the acknowledgment and confession of your own faithlessness. You must first see yourself as the whore of Ezekiel 16, Malachi 2, and Hosea 1, before you can become the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5.
And this is how the bride of Christ comes to wear white on her wedding day: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might make her holy, having cleansed her by the washing of water through the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
The only way to grow in love for God and for others is to realize how he has already loved us in Jesus. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has faithfully loved a faithless people. He has been faithful to keep his promises to rescue a people for himself, though we have not earned this right or deserved this in any way. All those who understand this are transformed at the level of their hearts. God begins in a work in them that he never ceases until the day of completion. Through the work of Jesus and the Spirit, God turns us into the faithful bride that we were created and called to be.
Bible verses on God’s Love:
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved …
Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.