God's love does not change or fade. He will not change His mind because of something we do or don't do. It is not so easily swayed. It is not a fickle thing but it is relentless, determined, and absolute. It is unfailing. Love, “…is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)” and “God is love (1 John 4:16)”. This love is the basis for God's mercy. In general, it was mostly God's blessings that were conditional, not His affections. After all, He still kept calling Israel to repent even though they had deliberately turned their backs on Him so many times (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). Scripture says of Israel, “For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the place of slavery... Know that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands. (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)”.
God chose them not because of who they were but in spite of it. In spite of the fact that He Himself said they were a “stiff-necked people (Exodus 32:9)”. Like Israel, there was nothing good in us before we were saved that merited His love and saving grace. We were His enemies, in our minds, our hearts, and in our actions (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21). yet, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)”. This is the miracle of God's unconditional and unfailing love. There is no earning it, there is no losing it. “Before He made the world, God loved us and chose us... (Ephesians 1:4)”. When He had made everything on earth and in heaven God called it all “good”, but it was only after He made mankind that God said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:1-31). God is the one who created us in His image (Genesis 1:26) and we are all created through Him and to Him (Romans 11:36) and for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). We are His special creations. There is a special place in the Father's heart that is just for us whom He has purchased with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-20, 1 Corinthians 6:20). Scripture says, “...there is great rejoicing in the presence of the angles when one sinner repents... (Luke 15:10)”. Note that it does not say that the rejoicing is done by the angles (though that is probably true) but if it is done in their presence then the only one who can be doing the rejoicing is God Himself because His desire is to save us by bringing us to Himself. Salvation is about more than rescue from hell, it’s about a vibrant and growing love relationship with God now. It’s about being changed – free from guilt, shame, and the power of sin right now. It is about the power to live the way that God wants us to through His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:3). That is the result of God's love and that never changes for He says, “Could a mother forget her child?... Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have carved you into My hands... (Isaiah 49:15-16)”.
Trust and Fear
This kind of love demands a response and the best response we can truly give is to hope/trust in that love. Jesus said, “what God wants you to do is believe in the One He sent (John 6:29)”. And that is His desire for us now. To trust means – to rely on, believe, commit, expect, be confident in. To trust in God's unfailing love is not the same as the person who says, “God is too loving to send me to hell so I'll live how I want.” His love warns us of the inevitable consequences of sin. We must remember that , “He is patient with you not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)” Therefore, to trust in His unfailing love is to believe Him in a way that produces change and results.
It is to trust and believe that...
• His will/plan is good - “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2), “For I know the plans I have for you.” Says the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
• His ways are perfect - “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
• His Word is true - “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
• His promise is faithful - “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
• His judgments are just - “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (Revelation 16:7, see also Revelation 16:5&19:2)
When we have embraced these truths, we will grasp the consequences of sin, rebellion, and disobedience. Then, in the fear that we justly fall under the wrath of God, we will come to Him to be forgiven, cleansed, and changed – this is why the true fear of God always leads to genuine repentance and consistent obedience. This kind of fear will never cause us to flee from God, since we know that's not possible, but we know that the only way we can be saved is to tremblingly and yet boldly approach the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) – trembling at His holiness but bold in our confident trust in His great and unfailing love. We recognize and confess that “God is God and I am not.” and then we must completely submit ourselves to Him and trust Him for the things He's promised.
We trust Him for...
• Deliverance - “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:17-19)
• Protection - “Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.” (Psalm 40:11), “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
• Direction - “the LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)”.
• Power - “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity and fear, but the Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
• Wisdom - “if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault.” (James 1:5)
• Discernment - “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10)
• Provision - “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19), “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”” (Genesis 22:14), “He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.” (Psalm 111:5)
• Favor - “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12), “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11)
• Grace - “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2), “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:6-9), “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).
• Forgiveness - “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” (Psalm 130:4), “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28), “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9)
• Redemption - “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” (Ephesians 1:7), “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)
• Recreation - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
• Transformation – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2), “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).
This kind of genuine trust in God's “unfailing love” combined with “the fear of the Lord” leads us to obey Him from the heart - not in cold legalistic duty, but produces passionately consistent obedience. The “fear of the LORD” and “trust in His unfailing love” will ALWAYS go together. This is part of what enabled Jesus to be, “obedient unto death – even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8), and will enable us to, “trust ourselves to God as a faithful creator (1 Peter 4:19)” no matter what we may go through in this world so that even when we don't understand we can say, “nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done (Matthew 26:39)”.
This kind of trust and fear leading to heartfelt obedience evokes from God another kind of love – delight. Think of it; you can delight the God of the universe in a way that nothing else can! Let us remember that God saves us not only out of His mercy, but also in order to, “adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5). He desires to, “present us faultless to Himself with exceeding great joy.” (Jude 1:24-25).
What delights God? Scripture says,
• “The Lord's delight is in those who fear Him and hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11)
• “The Lord takes delight in His people...” (Psalm 149:4)
• “This is My Son whom I love. With Him I am well pleased (or “in Him I delight”)” (Matthew 12:18)
There is “unconditional love” and there is “delighting love”.“Unconditional love” is to love no matter what – without conditions - and is necessary for humanity in its fallen state, but “delighting love” is love given based on heartfelt obedience. The Father never had to love the Son “unconditionally” since Jesus never sinned. Yet Scripture says, “If you obey My commands you will remain in My love just as I have obeyed the Father’s commands and remain in His love (John 15:10)”. The love of the Father for the Son has always been “delighting love”. It is this kind of love that we may or may not remain in. This is the same thing when Scripture says, “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)”.
The Lord's Delight
So; God delights in His people, those who “fear Him and hope in His unfailing love” and God delights in His Son. If we are in Christ then this is another way that God delights in us for Scripture says that, “We (believers) are to God (the Father) the aroma of Christ in this world. (2 Corinthians 2:15)”. There is a joy that God has in us that is only for us. If only we could see the radiant smile that our loving obedience as His children brings to the face of God! We could never sin again!! Oh, that it would be the deep heart’s desire of every single one of God’s children to be a delight and joy to Him in every way for every day of our lives! Let it be our aim, “to please Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9) here and now in everything we do so that “whether eating or drinking, (we) do everything to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)”. How can we not long to please the One who rescued and redeemed us out of His great unconditional love for us?! How could we not desire to bring joy to the One we say we love – the One we should love about everything (even ourselves)?! How can we not desire to delight the heart of the One who loves us so much that “He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him... may have eternal life (John 3:16)”. He is the One who plans and works everything out for our good (Jeremiah 29:11, and Romans 8:28), who invites us into an intimate relationship with Him (John15:5). May He have every reason to say of us, “as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5)”.
God often refers to Himself as Father and this is no accident. Just as a natural father (usually) loves his children unconditionally and forgives them and believes the best in them, so God loves all those who are His children adopted through Christ. However, in the same way, not all children are a delight and joy to their parents but only those who consistently (though not perfectly) obey their parents. So too God has a special delight and joy in those who obey Him in love and trust.
Point to Ponder
So, have you responded first to God's unfailing love by receiving His gift of forgiveness and reconciliation through faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19) the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)? If you have been adopted into His family, do you take His unfailing love for granted or do you truly trust in that love by living a life of consistent obedience to His Word?
Let's pray, “Our Father, thank You for Your love for us that never changes. Thank You for sending Your Son to save us, even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:5). Lord, reveal to our hearts the truth of Your unfailing love – let it be real to us. May we put all of our trust in Your unfailing love, believing in the truth of Your Word and living a life of obedience – a life that pleases You. Let it be our deepest desire to be a delight to Your eyes and a joy to Your heart, oh God. By Your Holy Spirit You are at work in us, giving us “the desire to obey You and the power to do what pleases You (Philippians 2:13)”. May we live in that power and from that desire every day of our lives. Amen.”