Doubting the Love of God

Yesterday, I wrote about how believers should never question the fact that God loves them. The love of God is seen in a number of biblical texts and poetically described for us in many hymns. God’s unending, unceasing love for His children is truly a comforting thought.

Yet there are times in the life of a believer that we doubt God’s love, in spite of what we know the Bible says. The doubts are rarely raised in times that we consider to be “good.” Our doubts usually arise when circumstances in life are not what we like. In those times, we may be able to affirm that God loves, but believe that His doubtactions toward us are not loving. In so doing, we doubt the love of God.

I offer two primary reasons for this doubting of God’s love for your consideration (you could probably think of others as well).

Reason #1 We diminish God’s love in our minds. In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul prays that believers would grow in their knowledge of the love of God, which surpasses knowledge. Believers ought to pursue God faithfully, daily, zealously, and consistently. This means that we do not just learn facts about God, nor do we just know what to say when someone asks us a question about God. It means that because of our study of God’s Word, infused by God’s Spirit, we actually know God, and His love for us, elevating it more and more.

I have known my wife for over 21 years now. We have been married for 18 1/2 glorious years, but we knew each other before that for about three years. When I stood at the altar in our wedding, I knew a lot about her, and I could answer other people’s questions about her. I knew her to an extent, but it was not until we were married that I really knew her. Many people may treat their relationship with the Lord like a dating relationship. It is fun to go out and do stuff together, but there is not the full commitment level that comes with marriage. You may know a lot about God, but you have not fully committed yourselves to know God intimately, deeply, nor zealously.

The longer I am married, the more I understand my wife’s love for me because of how she expresses it either verbally or through her actions. Similarly, the more I study God’s Word, the more I understand and comprehend God’s love for me. He expresses His love for me through statements of affirmation, through His actions, and ultimately through His Son Jesus Christ, and the atoning work on the cross.

We can diminish God’s love for us because we do understand God’s love as we ought to. We must dive headlong into God’s Word, and let the Word fill us with knowledge of God’s love, knowing that we will never plumb its depths. Every inch deeper we get, the more amazed we are by it. God truly loves us with an amazing love.

Reason #2 We elevate our own love in our minds. By this I mean that we elevate our own thoughts of love, which are not in conformity to God’s love in the Bible. We have expectations of what we think love should look like. We have ideas of what we would do, or want done to us, in order to show love. Our thoughts of love, however, are more often shaped by ungodly cultural expressions or philosophies than they are by God’s Word. Because of this, when we are in a difficult time of life, we expect God to function and act in ways that we think He should if He were truly loving. And when God does not fulfill those faulty expectations, we doubt His love for us.

This is a major problem in the minds and hearts of many believers today. We elevate our own thoughts and expect God to conform Himself to those. However, nowhere in the Scriptures do God’s thoughts need to be conformed to man’s. Indeed, it is the exact opposite. It is man’s mind that must be renewed by the Spirit of God through the Word of God to be conformed to Son of God.

Let’s go back to the marriage analogy to illustrate this point. Every married person enters marriage with certain expectations and ideas. More often than not, many of those expectations and ideas are faulty, for a variety of reasons. Our thinking in marriage must change. But in order for marriages to be successful, it is not that one spouse must conform to the thinking of the other spouse, it is that both spouses must think in conformity to Jesus Christ.

In our Christianity, as well as in our marriages, life is not always a bed of roses. There are challenges, and difficulties that must be met with a biblical and theological mindset. When those challenges come you will either elevate your own thoughts, or submit yourself to God’s Word. If you elevate your own thoughts, you will doubt God’s love for you in the middle of a trial and find no comfort. If you submit yourself to God’s Word, you will cling tightly to the unchanging truth of God and His love for you, finding rest for your soul.

Elevating our own thoughts of what we think love ought to be like leads to a life of despair, and great difficulty, and may even reveal a lack of genuine salvation. Submitting ourselves to God’s Word and allowing His Spirit to change even how we think will lead us to face even life’s greatest difficulties with a peace and joy and contentment that passes all understanding. The one path leads to destruction; the other leads to life.

Christians should always question their thoughts apart from God, but we should never doubt God’s love for us.

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God’s Love

The apostle Paul prays that the Ephesian church would grow in their understanding of God’s love for them in Ephesians 3:17-19. This, of course, is a prayer to pray for us as Christians, too. This love is knowable, though it ultimately surpasses human knowledge. No matter how deep we plunge into it, there is no bottom to it. No matter how far we see its reach, it never ends.

gods-love

The apostle Paul knew of God’s love, as did all the other apostles. They saw love incarnate in Jesus Christ. They heard his love for them. They observed it. To them, there was no mistaking the fact that God loved not only them, but the entire world.

God so loved the world – John 3:16

God demonstrated his love for us while we were still sinners – Romans 5:8

The true picture of love is not human love, but God’s love for us demonstrated through the sacrificial, bloody, and atoning death of Jesus Christ – 1 John 4:10

Great hymns also communicate this truth.

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love. – William Rees

 

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain:
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky. – Frederick Lehman

O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!                           Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me.                                                  Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love;                                            Leading onward, leading homeward, to Thy glorious rest above.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Love of every love the best;                                                 ‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest.                                                         O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;                                             And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee. – Samuel Trevor Francis

May no Christian ever doubt the love of God, no matter what the circumstance or situation in which we find ourselves; no matter who attacks us; no matter what God in His providence allows. God’s love is sure, eternally fixed, and never changing! May our hearts rest today in the love of God!