Failing to See God’s Love

Depressed

It seems almost unfathomable for the people of God to question His love for man, but this is what we see the people of Israel doing at the beginning of the book of Malachi. God told the people, “I have loved you.” Yet the people questioned God: “How have You loved us?” (Malachi 1:2). Let us notice a few ways in which we can fail to see the love of God so that we do not make the same mistake as the Israelites of Malachi’s day.

We might fail to see the love of God when we take it for granted – God’s very nature is love. John said, “Love is from God” and “God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). We also know that God is unchanging with regard to His character (Malachi 3:6). Therefore, His love is constant. Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

However, because His love is constant and unfailing, we can eventually allow ourselves to take it for granted if we are not careful. Once we start taking the love of God for granted, it can be easy to overlook. Therefore, we need regular reminders of the things God has done to demonstrate His love for us. These reminders can come through singing songs in praise to God, listening to others teach about His works, and reading His word (1 Chronicles 16:9; Colossians 3:16; Acts 20:24; John 21:24-25).

We might fail to see the love of God when we are looking for something else – The ultimate gift of God’s love was in the sending of His Son to die on the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Not only this, but God has given to us “every good thing…and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). However, there is often a temptation to look for something different and judge the greatness of God’s love based upon our own criteria rather than what He has done.

Many look for material wealth as promised in the “health and wealth” gospel. While we do receive material blessings from God, the Scriptures also emphasize contentment (Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6-8). The “health and wealth” gospel is “a different doctrine” promoted by those who are “of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” (1 Timothy 6:3, 5). If we believe that God blesses those whom He loves with the riches of this life, it can become easy to question God’s love when those riches do not come upon us as we think they should.

People also long for freedom. We have been given freedom in Christ, as Paul wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). But what kind of freedom is this? Christ has made us free from sin (Romans 6:18) and free from the obligation to follow human creeds, opinions, and traditions (Matthew 15:6-9; Colossians 2:20-23). Yet many want freedom without any restraint. They do not want to become “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18) and be obligated to obey the Lord. They cannot understand why a loving God would hold them to any set standard, so they rebel against it. The irony in this is that while rebelling against God, they are still not free. They have just made themselves the slaves of sin (Romans 6:16). But many people judge God’s love according to His acceptance of their actions. When Scriptures are presented that teach against their lifestyle, they fail to see how any such prohibitions and boundaries can come from a God of love. So the love of God is ignored simply because one desires to receive something else.

We might fail to see the love of God when we are not looking for it at all – Sadly, many people are focused on the things of the world to the exclusion of the One who has provided all things to enjoy (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17). Paul warned, “The mind set on the flesh is death” (Romans 8:6). If we only concern ourselves with the things of this life rather than focusing on spiritual things, it will lead to our destruction. This world is temporary (1 John 2:17). Our lives are temporary (James 4:13-15). We must not let worldly concerns crowd out God.

Yet it is possible to reach such a state in which we ignore God. Paul spoke of those who “did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer” (Romans 1:28). This results in a “depraved mind” and leads to further ungodliness (Romans 1:28-32). When one turns his back on God and ignores Him, he fails to see the love of God. This makes it difficult to turn from sin and back to God for “the kindness of God leads…to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

Conclusion

The Israelites questioned God’s love and, as could be expected, were separated from God and needed to return to Him (Malachi 3:7). We will end up in the same condition if we fail to see God’s love – whether it is because we have taken it for granted, are looking for something different, or not looking at all. Let us recognize all of the things God has done to show His love for us and use them to motivate us to faithful service.


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