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 actions 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.