Jesus said, “he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him.” This aspect of God’s love is conditional.
God’s Rewarding Love
This blog series ends with one final aspect of God’s love – his rewarding love. We have seen that God unconditionally set his love upon everyone he created. The blessings of God’s ongoing Providential love rest unconditionally upon all humanity, without exception. He also demonstrated his Invitational love by sending Christ to die for the sins of the world, so that whosoever believes may have eternal life. In this way, God’s Saving love is conditional upon us opening up and receiving his love.
God has also established relationship with his people through what we call his Covenantal love. The initiative his entirely his, but to enjoy the blessings of the covenant we must respond with believing loyalty and obedience. This aspect is clearly conditional.
The answer to the question, “Is God’s love conditional or unconditional?”, is that it’s both. Both elements apply to God’s Rewarding love. God’s prior love of his people is unconditional. He chose to set his love on us without any precondition or merit on our part. But to enjoy the rewards of this love we must sincerely respond to it. Having received God’s love simply by faith, we go on to enjoy the blessings of relationship with him by being faithful to him in all things.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me ( John 14:21-24 ESV).
Loving obedience to God brings the promise of increasing intimacy and proximity to him. He dwells with the faithful, manifesting himself to us, and not to the world. This is why people who do not yet know Jesus sometimes find it difficult to believe God really loves them.
Maybe you have prayed to God asking him to bless your health, your job, your relationships or your finances. But when things don’t work out as you want, you immediately doubt his love.
The secondary things of life are never the measure of God’s love. Those who truly give themselves to Christ and long for more of him will naturally pursue him and seek to please him in all things. That’s the proper response to God’s love. The most precious love we can offer God is to trust him in all circumstances of life.
Bad things sometimes happen to good people and good things to bad people. Therefore, God’s love and displeasure are not easily discerned through our circumstances. He disciplines those he loves. The love of God is never removed from his people, but it can be restrained. If we displease the Lord, his response is one of rebuke and chastening. He restrains but never removes his love.
However, God’s reward and blessing is with those who fear him. The Lord rewards those who diligently seek him, walking in his wisdom. And the ultimate reward is the gift of himself.