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It is hard for us humans to understand how a perfect God can love imperfect beings. But if we want to describe the character of God with one word, it is love. The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Compassion is the pre-eminent attribute of the Creator. Love is the controlling force in His divine government. “The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:6, 7).
God has deep care for all of His creatures and for us humans who were made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We can have a glimpse of His love for us in the love we have for our own children. God made us this way so we can somewhat comprehend His love. Yet, even parental love has been ruined by sin. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
The compassion of God is not just a feeling. The supreme expression of divine love is the Father’s gift of His Son (John 3:16), through whom it becomes possible for us to be “called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). Even though humans strayed away from God and yielded to Satan by disobedience, God redeemed them back by His substitutionary death. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
While God’s love embraces all humans, it directly benefits those who respond to it: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Love requires reciprocity in order to be fully effective. It is God’s goodness that leads humans to repentance (Romans 2:4). It is His love that melts hard hearts, brings back the lost, and makes sinners into saints.
In His service,