Is God’s Love Really Unconditional?

  • 1 July 2021

I bristle when I hear people talk about God’s unconditional love. Typically, it is used in a context of borderline bragging about how it doesn’t matter what a person does; God still loves that person “unconditionally.” And, of course, the implication that follows is that we must love people unconditionally as well. After all, we are supposed to be like God. So I would like to ask a couple of questions. Does God really love unconditionally, and are we to follow suit?

On the surface, the answer to these questions would be a hearty, “Absolutely!” Just as God loves us, we are to love others. But I feel like we need to define “love” and what that looks like.

A parent may love a wayward child, but sometimes the most loving thing they can do is distance themselves and let the adult son or daughter make bad decisions so that they ultimately learn better ways of doing things.

Someone who ministers in a prison may feel compassion for those locked inside, but it would not be right or necessarily loving to let them all loose and trust that they won’t hurt anyone else.

So it is with God. He is grieved when the people He created ignore Him and disobey His Word. He may not stop loving them, but He will withdraw from them and, if they don’t repent, He will cast them from His sight forever. I am in no way desiring to take away from God’s love. I long to fully understand the depth of that love so that I can better love others, but I do not want a distorted view that would propel me into eternal torment.

I am currently reading through the New Living Translation, and I like how it refers to God’s “unfailing love.” The King James and English Standard Versions use the word “steadfast.” His love is “resolutely firm and unwavering,” but He still expects His children to love and obey Him in return.

When you are telling someone how magnificent God’s love is, I would encourage you to consider substituting “unconditional” for “unfailing.” Anyone can “love” someone unconditionally, overlooking sin in the process, but God’s love goes deeper than that. He has laid out conditions for His followers, but His love is so pure and genuine that it is worth doing what He asks. When we accept God’s love as it truly is instead of how we imagine it or would like it to be, I expect that we will grow to love Him more in return.

1 Comment

Add your comment

  1. Mark Anthony - July 6, 2021 at 6:11 PM

    The word “unfailing” aptly describes our God in every way. We cannot hope to be accepted in the strength of our own faithfulness, for we fail too often. I recently concluded First Thessalonians and the final message included a look at 1 These. 5:24 ESV] “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

    Sadly, as humans, we struggle to love as God does, but that should be strive after in order to be more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

    A great way to see “unfailing” is seen in Romans 8:28-29. Too many focus on “All things work together for good” and leave the rest of passage out. It is true for those who 1) love God, and 2) for those called according to His purpose which is to make us like His Son.

    Thank you for the encouraging thoughts as always.

Leave a Reply

Leave A Comment