Love isn’t about liking everyone, or even anyone; it’s about seeking the welfare of others, wanting their ultimate good (Ro 13:10); it’s being longsuffering, benevolent, kind, unassuming, unselfish. (1Co 13:5)
This is the essence of the character of God: benevolent concern for others. He doesn’t need us to make Himself feel good; He is perfectly complete in and of Himself; we can add nothing to Him. Every aspect of His dealings with us is for our own good, not His. He isn’t trying to keep us from having fun, or bully us into following a set of arbitrary rules. God’s Law is the perfect expression of what it means to care. Everything God does is aligned with love, both for Himself and for His creatures.
What makes God’s love profound, in my opinion, is the magnitude of it, its depth and breadth and length and height. (Ep 3:17-18) This is known by who God loves, us, His enemies, desperately wicked people, and how He loves us, sacrificially, willing to suffer infinitely for us, to become our sin so that we might be made His righteousness (2Co 5:21), enter into His rest, and become part of His immediate family. (1Jn 3:1)
This is infinite love – only known against the backdrop of sin. Without God allowing sin, and without us knowing how holy He is, how much He hates sin, how He suffers by allowing sin, much less becoming sin for us, we can have no clue of His love, of His essential character and nature.
As God calls us to walk in His steps, to live as He does, we must know God’s own love as the source of our love. (1Jn 4:19) As we begin to realize what He is like, and comprehend the depth of His concern for us, we can begin to care for Him and others in the same way, trusting Him to care for us (1Pe 5:7), and be filled with all His fullness. (Eph 3:19)
We can experience many different facets of love: romantic, brotherly affection, neighborly concern. In the end, what defines our own attitude as love or not is whether we genuinely have another’s best interest in mind, or whether we’re trying to use them to promote ourselves and make ourselves feel good. Perhaps there’s very little love in this world (1Jn 5:19); either way, it could always use a little bit more.
As we grow in love, increasing and abounding yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (Php 1:9), we begin to see that all our desires and affections, what we’ve been wanting for ourselves, can’t be satisfied in those we’ve been trying to use, but only in God Himself. Every craving, every longing … is a shadow to remind us to behold the beauty of God, to rejoice in Him as the ultimate fulfillment of all we could ever want.