“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God” 1 John 3:1
When John wrote this he quite likely did so after a lengthy pause to consider the kind of love that God has toward us. In the world there are several kinds of love but this kind of love is uniquely God’s kind of love.
People often express a brotherly kind of love toward each other which occasionally includes acts of self sacrifice. Yet this kind of love is often conditional. If the object of the love does not reciprocate then it may fail.
There is a kind of love that may be better described as lust. Lust means that I must be gratified now; I must have it now. Coveting something that another person has may be the motivation for this kind of love. This is a self-serving kind of love.
The love that parents have for their children is often sacrificial and is evidence that we are created in the image of God. It is limited in its expression to our children and perhaps to grandchildren. Yet even this love can fail.
So that we are in no doubt as to the kind of love God has toward us John states it in verse sixteen: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” Paul describes it this way, “God demonstrates His own [kind of] love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” and “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:8, 6). This is why Jesus can ask us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-35). When He lives in us we will show this kind of love from the heart – not out of a sense of duty or necessity.
God did not have to make a decision to love us in this way. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). He loves in this way because it is His nature. When His nature abides in us we will also love others in this way, even those who mock us and spit on us as they did the Lord Jesus.
When we know that God has this kind of love toward us we will have no difficulty trusting Him. The evidence that we trust Him is that we obey His word because we know it is for our good. When we do not obey Him we reveal that we doubt his love for us.
We can now see the exceeding sinfulness of unbelief. How could we doubt God’s goodness toward us when the evidence is plain before our eyes that while we were His enemies Jesus died for us?
Behold and meditate on this kind of love that the Father has bestowed on us and then let Him love even our enemies through us. God’s kind of love gives what is rightfully ours to another who previously had no right to it. It will cost us something to benefit another who doesn’t deserve it.