A child’s self-worth thrives from receiving parental unconditional love and grace that says, “You are valuable to me because you exist, and I love you because you are you.” Such love molds their self-image and informs their knowledge of their Creator.
None of us gives or receives perfect love to or from anyone in this world. We are broken and sinful. Some of us have been blessed to have loving, healthy and nurturing parents; while, some people have suffered from a failure to receive healthy expressions of love at all from their parents or family.

I think no matter who we are or what sort of situation in which we grew up, we come to associate receiving love with having to earn or deserve it some way. Because we are no longer little children, we think we must perform for our love, change in order to get it, pay for it in some way or go without real love.

Unconditional love is hard to give; it is also hard to receive. This fact is just an indicator of how broken we are as humans. Due to our sinfulness and woundedness, we have a difficult time expressing and receiving love. The Harvard University researcher George Valliant conducted one of the longest running studies on happiness and well-being. During the 75 year study he followed several hundred men. The study proved the ultimate value of loving, warm relationships in contributing to happiness, but Valliant also concluded that “It’s very hard for most of us to tolerate being loved.” That’s shocking to read.

We have been hurt; we are hurt; therefore, we hurt others. In order to love God and love others and to receive love, we need rescue and healing. Our distorted attitudes and expressions of love negatively influence our relationship to God.

How would you answer these questions, “Why does God love you?” Or “How can you get God to love you?” or “What does it take for God to like you?” Or “What would cause God to stop loving you?”

Often we answer these sorts of questions by saying something like, “Well, you know, you have to…” or “Well, if you ….” Or “Well, I don’t know…you should probably…”

We find ourselves trying to earn God’s love, make God love us, wish God showed his love to us somehow, prove ourselves to God, change ourselves for God, get God’s attention or do something else for God’s love. We may sometimes think that God doesn’t really love me…How could he?

What might be even worse is when we get to a point in life and we think something like, “Ahhh….Now God will love me” or “Well, I did that, so now God will hear me” or “I think I’m almost someone God will really love.” Or “I am living right, so of course God loves me.”

This last phrase might be indicative of the narcissism of some in our culture who have an idea akin to “I am special; of course, God loves me…How could he not?” This requires a healthy dose of self-examination in light of God’s word and holiness.

It is Lent right now as I write this. Many of us fast in some way during Lent. Two erroneous outcomes can sometimes occur during or after a fast rather than the positive outcomes we and God intend. If we complete a fast, we may think something like, “Yes! I did it. Now God will do something cool for me.” In truth, a fast accomplishes turning our attention to God rather than earning something from him. Sometimes we fail to meet our goal…anyone else besides me? I stayed in the kitchen too long, and I lost it and ate a bunch of stuff. I have to admit I had a thought like “Oh no, God is going to be mad. Shoot. I wonder if he noticed.” Yeah, he noticed and probably laughed… “O foolish ones, and how slow of heart to believe that I love you.”

What is the truth about God’s love?

We have to remember that by God’s grace and through faith we are saved and in Christ. God demonstrated and asserted his love once and for all by giving his one and only son Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8). That is not based on our flimsy wills and whimsy self-control. God’s love is based on his being. He is love, and we are blessed to be the objects of his love.

The apostle John is probably one of the persons in history who knew God as well as anyone on earth. He writes in his letter, “God is love.” (1 Jn 4.8) Among other attributes like holy, merciful and just, love describes the essence of God. Love flows and emanates from God. All creation exists in God’s love. To exist is to be in God’s love. To be human, is to be a recipient of God’s love—regardless of who you are or what you have done. God’s love pours out toward you. God’s love is amazingly unfailing.

When you receive Jesus as your Lord and ask him into your heart and life, you receive the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into your heart (Romans 5:5). The same love that the Father has for the Son dwells in those who have received Jesus into their life (John 17:26 ) Believe it or not, this is the prayer of Jesus for us. You can experience it by receiving Jesus and the Father’s love into your life and heart right now.

If you would like to listen to a sermon on the Father’s love for you, listen here.