God is Devoted to You
As I sat across from a man during a recent lunch, he said to me (as he reflected on a terrible trial that he is currently going through): “If you’ve told us once, you’ve told us a thousand times, ‘God never gives up on his children; he loves us and is working out a plan for our good and his glory. That’s my hope.’” He was right. If there’s a message that I want Christians to hear repeatedly, it’s this: God loves you profoundly, deeply, and unwaveringly.
That’s because it is a recognition of God’s love for us that stirs our hearts toward love for him, rouses our souls to worship, motivates our broken wills to obey, quells our deepest fears, silences our guilt-riddled consciences, and impresses upon us our inestimable worth.
In his recent address at the National Prayer Breakfast, retired Senate Chaplain Barry Black pointed out that, as a ten-year-old boy living in inner-city Baltimore, it was a Spirit-granted understanding of God’s love for him that gave him a sense of confidence and self-worth. After hearing about Jesus’ death on the cross—the greatest display of one-way love in history—Dr. Black said, “No one could ever make me feel inferior again.” To the redeemed sinner, there is no better news: You are loved by God. The cross is indisputable evidence.
But a question remains: What does it actually mean to be loved by God? We throw around the word “love” a lot. Because we love a lot of things. I love my dog, we say. I love my car. I love my house. I love the Dodgers. I love chocolate. The weight of the word “love” has been hi-jacked by the silliness of our avowals.
In his commentary on Jeremiah 31, the great Dutch Reformer, Geerhardus Vos offers one of the most stunning explanations of God’s love that I’ve ever read. He says:
“The divine declaration ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love’ (31:3) is by no means from Jeremiah’s standpoint the commonplace which our over-familiarity with that attribute has made it. The prophet means to describe by this term something quite extraordinary, something well-nigh inconceivable, a supreme wonder in a land of wonders. … Love is to him the highest form of the spiritual embrace of person by person. To ascribe it to God in connection with a creature is at the farthest remove from being a figure of speech. It means that in the most literal sense He concentrates all the light and warmth of His affection, all the prodigious wealth of his resources, his endless capacity of delight, upon the heart-to-heart union between the [redeemed] and Himself.
And what God for His part brings into this union has a generosity, a sublime abandon, an absoluteness, that, measured by human analogies, we can only designate as the highest and purest type of devotion. It is named love for this very reason, that God puts into it His heart and soul and mind and strength, and gathers all His concerns with His people into the focus of this one desire. … Were kindness or mercy or longsuffering our reliance, then the perfection of confidence would have to remain hopelessly beyond our reach. Kindness carries the necessity of ever-repeated renewal in itself. It is like a reservoir, full and rich indeed, but not like the fountain except by grace of the fountain’s supply. But, since the fathomless tide of divine love rises irresistibly beneath it, we know that it can never fail, but will prove at every point more than equal to our needs.”
If you are in Christ, God not only loved you before you were born, but he has the most intense affection for you at this very moment. You are his treasure. He is relentlessly devoted to you.
In a way that is never at odds with his passion for his own glory, God delights in you. Which means that he is deeply concerned about everything you’re going through. Not in a passive, I-wish-I-could-do-something way, but in an I’ve-got-you sort of way. An awareness of this sort of love will cause us to say, with Jeremiah the Prophet, “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” and with Dr. Barry Black, “No one will ever make me feel inferior again.”
For his glory,