Ezra 1-2
John 19:23-42

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Many Christians describe God’s love as being unconditional and they rightly say “God loves us,” regardless of the severity of our sin. But while God’s love is unfailing, our experience of His love is conditional on how we respond to it.
In any relationship, we only truly experience love when it is reciprocated. This is why we experience pain from unrequited love. It hurts to love someone who does not love us back, a feeling God expressed just before sending the flood. He was grieved at the state of humanity and “...His heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:6). He loved people who did not return His love, as was evidenced in their evil ways. We also fail to experience love when we do not want it or recognize it. If one person loves another who is clueless to being loved, their experience of that love is empty and meaningless. Before coming to know Jesus, this is our situation before God. Even as sinners, God loves us more deeply than we know, but we do not accept His love because we either do not know it or we do not want it. This does not make God any less loving, but until His Spirit makes known to us the measure of His love for us, we will fail to experience it.
When we are made aware of God’s love for us, Jesus explains that our response should be one of obedience. This is not legalism, as if our obedience earns His love, but rather we will find ourselves wanting to obey God as a way of expressing our love for Him. God will not suddenly stop loving us when we disobey Him, as Paul tells us: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Though we enjoy the emotional dimensions of love, love is actually more volitional—an issue of the will. In our wedding vows, for instance, we are not asked how we feel about loving this person, but whether we will love them in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse. Showing love is ultimately a choice, and personally experiencing God’s love for us is contingent upon a reciprocated relationship in which we choose to love, cherish and obey God. Even through the dark tunnels of life, we are confident in a God who not only loves us, but is totally trustworthy, capable and in control.
Loving God, I love You, Lord. Thank You for loving me first and demonstrating it through the giving of Your Son to atone for my sins. Praise You!

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