In one of my first obstetrical/pediatric classes, I remember learning about infants who were raised in orphanages or nurseries with little contact or nurturing from caregivers. These babies were more likely to be lethargic or uninterested in their surroundings, and they often failed to thrive physically and emotionally.
This information was a nursing “game changer” for me. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to help parents learn to care appropriately for their children and show them love in every possible way.
Human love and nurturing are certainly essential for adequate growth and development, but they are not enough to ensure that a child will experience both a healthy, abundant spiritual life on earth and an eternal life in heaven.
The Apostle John had a lot to say about God’s love and its relationship to our spiritual health and eternal security. Not only does God love us, his creation, but he loves us sacrificially as described in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And Romans 5:8 reminds us that despite our undeserving state, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In 1 John 4:8, John quite simply states that a prerequisite for us to be able to love ourselves, and others, is to first know God’s love. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” According to A.W. Tozer, this verse not only affirms that we must first know God’s love to be able to love, but we must believe that love is an essential attribute of God’s being; it does not simply define God.
Tozer writes, “It means that in God is the summation of all love, so that all love comes from God. And it means that God’s love, we might say, conditions all of His other attributes, so that God can do nothing except He does it in love… Nothing God ever does, or ever did, or ever will do, is done separate from the love of God.”1 God does nothing except in love, and he is the source of all love!
Trusting God’s Love
When we face challenges and hurts, we might doubt God’s love and care for us. But Tozer states that God’s love is about the principle of good will. He does not will any harm or hurt to his creations, and they have no cause to fear him. 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Our faith in God’s everlasting love and the evidence of his love in his Word is enough to sustain us.
David, the shepherd and the king, experienced great challenges and hurts, but God’s great love and forgiveness renewed his faith. He described many of God’s attributes in Psalm 103, including his pervasive and everlasting love.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, reveals to us the story of God’s love and his free gift of forgiveness of sin through the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus. It was God’s love and forgiveness that transformed the life of Saul to become the Apostle Paul. And it was Paul who prayed that first-generation followers of Jesus would know the full measure of that love.
A Prayer for Love
Read Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians and ask God to show you his transforming love so that you can share it with your family, your co-workers, and your patients.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)
Amen to love!
–by Jane Hall, NCF National Director
All quotes from: A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God, Volume 2
This is the twentieth post in a series by NCF Director Jane Hall on God’s attributes. She is inspired by the writings of A.W. Tozer in The Attributes of God, Volume 2