Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 2 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Unconditional Love” (LISTEN HERE).
The more I reflect on unconditional love, the more I realize that love around us and how we exhibit it easily becomes conditional. Unconditional love is hard to comprehend, hard to find and hard to exhibit.
Conditional love is a great threat to unconditional love.
This may seem like an obvious statement, as the two cannot coexist. Love will be either conditional or unconditional. The reason this is a great threat is twofold.
First, conditional love threatens the unconditional love of God.
God does not put conditions on his love.
“God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16) He did not wait for the world to meet certain criteria before he sent Jesus.
1 John 5:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Yet we individually and collectively can put conditions on God’s love…ones that aren’t even there, but we are so conditioned to conditional love we subconsciously operate in the reality that God’s love is conditional. What do I mean?
Have you ever used the phrase, “I don’t think God loves me?” I remember a guest from years ago who came to worship a few times and as we visited afterward she said, “I don’t think I am good enough for your church.” Inherent in each of us is the reality that we are not good enough for God’s love. In fact, this conclusion is accurate. We aren’t.
There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,… (Romans 3:23)
What follows in our thought patterns is that we have to become good enough to receive the love of God. We recognize our performance is less than God’s perfection, but instead of receiving God’s love as an unconditional gift, we subconsciously feel like we need to earn it back. We measure how much we deserve God’s love by how well we perceive we are doing what God wants.
The result? We have added conditions to God’s love.
To take this one step further, we can begin to measure our performance against others and conclude either we are more deserving of God’s love than others, or we despair and feel we are less worthy of God’s love. The result of putting conditions on God’s love is either the mountain of pride (I deserve it.) or the pit of despair (I don’t deserve it.). Both are grave threats to the unconditional love God has chosen in Christ to give to us.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
When I make God’s love conditional, I build Pharisaical pride in my heart and I miss the comfort God’s unconditional love truly gives.
God’s unconditional love is not based on my performance. It is based on his gracious choice to love me even though I do not always love him.
“This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.”
Apply: How do you find yourself adding conditions to God’s love for you?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing your unconditional love for us in Christ. Forgive us when we put our own conditions on your love and work as though we can earn more of it. Lead us to receive and treasure the simple fact that your love is unconditional. AMEN.