RYM TYM Radio/TV Talk Show

  • Loving Unconditionally

    Unconditional Love Is Uncommon, BUT Not Impossible

    Love seems to hang in the balance of fairy tales and tragedies. It is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied words in our vocabulary. Love is so fluid that it can apply to your favorite ice cream flavor or in the next sentence refer to the feelings we have for another human being. It's easy to understand how so many find themselves confused when it comes to the subject of love.

    This word rarely is received in its purest form. Instead, it comes with a tremendous amount of conditions, baggage, and confusion. Psychology tells us that the act of receiving, or not receiving, love can make or break a person emotionally and spiritually. It can propel us toward greatness or limit us in our capacity to find fulfillment, satisfaction, and purpose.

    Unconditional Love

    A church may be the only place you have ever heard the two words unconditional and love used together in the same sentence. We hear it most often talked about when we remember and reflect on the voluntary sacrifice of God's Son on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin. In turn, everyone has the ability to reconnect and have an ongoing, dynamic relationship with God. This is the ultimate expression of love without condition.

    The idea that love might be unconditional is perplexing. Is that even possible? And who actually has the capacity to act in that way toward another human being? Most people have never experienced unconditional love. Too often, the affection of others comes at too high a price to even consider the possibility that love might be unconditional.

    This notion of unconditional love dissipates in our attempt to act in this way toward others. We try with the best of intentions but end up projecting our expectations on others, only showing them favor and love when they satisfy our needs and follow through with our requests. We don't mean to act like this or behave in this way. It is just so part of our nature that we can't help ourselves.

    Most of our life experiences, if we are honest with ourselves and others, teach us that we must do something to earn the love of others. We must do what our parents tell us to do. We must meet society's expectations for our level of education, personal achievement, financial success, etc. We must be the ideal spouse. We must be the prettiest, drive the fastest cars, work from corner offices in high-rise buildings, and be someone no one can live without. If we can achieve the right things and avoid the fatal pitfalls, then we have a shot at truly experiencing love, right?

    The problem with this approach to love is that it sets us up for defeat. Sooner or later, because of something we have or have not done, we lose the love of someone or something and our world unravels. We disappoint our parents, our spouse, or our children. We experience financial difficulty or fail to get the promotion. Who is left to show us love? Sometimes, it is no one.

    Worse, what if we are born into the wrong neighborhood? What if we never get access to quality health care and have to live with a disability or maligned body that might easily have been prevented, cured, or fixed? And what if our education is minimal at best? If we apply society's standards, who will love these people, not to mention what can they possibly do to receive the type of love that comes without condition?

    The good news is that unconditional love is available to everyone. If God lives within us, then we have the capacity to show unconditional love toward others, even to the least of these. We know the pain of letting other people down, and we are aware of the pressure of constantly trying to earn the affection of others by doing things they will admire, acknowledge, and affirm. What if we decided to live life differently?

    The way to receive unconditional love is to give it away. Unconditional love doesn't come with any expectations or strings attached. It is present whether or not we succeed or fail and isn't attached to what we do but to who we are.

    That kind of love is unconditional. When we see it, experience it, or give it away, people take notice. And we have the capacity to show this love toward others because God has loved us in the same way.

    Unconditional love is uncommon. Uncommon doesn't mean impossible; it just means uncommon. But God's plan has been uncommon from the beginning, so this isn't exactly new. When we break ranks with our culture and embrace an uncommon approach to love, we invite the opportunities into our everyday lives where we can extend unconditional love to others.

    You don't have to start an international relief organization or have billions of dollars to give away to change the world. The reality is you can do that right where you are. You don't change cultures by influencing groups of people in masses. You change the world one person at a time.

    It could be as simple as a handshake and a smile or as complex as raising funds to accomplish something specific. Whatever it is, we must recognize that we have the capacity to show unconditional love to others. And in doing so, we are transformed into agents of change.

    Jesus could have fought an earthly battle and waged war on Rome. There were plenty of people, even some of His disciples, who would have preferred He take that approach. But when Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, He was clear that God's way of living is different from our way of living. Our clearest picture of this uncommon, unconditional love comes when Jesus is willing to die on our behalf, for our sins, that we might have life forever.

    If you think carefully about those closest to you, there is likely at least one person in your life that understands and practices what it means to show unconditional love toward others. These are not loud and noisy people clamoring for attention. Rather, you'll find them quietly serving others right where they are. They aren't waiting for sometime in the future to make a difference; they are making a difference today.

    What happens when unconditional love is introduced into the equation? Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. And no one can go back after they have experienced it, even just once.

    Unconditional love heals the broken, empowers the timid, affirms the hesitant, and elevates those who have been overlooked, forgotten, and silenced. There is a power that comes to those who show and to those who receive unconditional love. Those who show this love are released from being consumed with themselves. Those who receive this love are released from limitations others have placed on them.

    Unconditional love sets us free so that we might live according to God's plan for our lives. Further, it sets in motion the steps necessary to bring about the kingdom of God on earth while we wait for the coming of a new world where unconditional love will exist in its original form, without human manipulation or corruption. Too often we excuse ourselves from opportunities to embody unconditional love because we are convinced we aren't smart enough, mature enough, experienced enough, or rich enough to make a significant impact. That simply isn't true. You have everything you need right now to show unconditional love toward someone else. This book is about ordinary people, just like you, who did extraordinary things when they released unconditional love in and through their lives.

    God blessed what they were doing for others and enlarged their influence and impact. You can be part of that blessing, too. Unconditional Love is not a challenge for the future but now. It is not something we can wait to do but is something we must initiate right now.

    You can be an agent of change. It will look different than what you might think. But there is great power in letting go of that which is holding us back. Choosing to recklessly share unconditional love with others in the same way God has done for us will change you and the people you reach.

    Is God's love conditional or unconditional?

    God’s love, as described in the Bible, is clearly unconditional in that His love is expressed toward the objects of His love (i.e., His people) despite their disposition toward Him. In other words, God loves because it His nature to love (1 John 4:8), and that love moves Him toward benevolent action. The unconditional nature of God’s love is most clearly seen in the gospel. The gospel message is basically a story of divine rescue. As God considers the plight of His rebellious people, He determines to save them from their sin, and this determination is based on His love (Ephesians 1:4-5). Listen to the Apostle Paul’s words from his letter to the Romans:

    “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die” (Romans 5:6-8).

    Reading through the book of Romans, we learn that we are alienated from God due to our sin. We are at enmity with God, and His wrath is being revealed against the ungodly for their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-20). We reject God, and God gives us over to our sin. We also learn that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and that none of us seek God, none of us do what is right before His eyes (Romans 3:10-18).

    Despite this hostility and enmity we have toward God (for which God would be perfectly within His rights to utterly destroy us), God reveals His love toward us in the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation (i.e., an appeasement of God’s righteous wrath) for our sins. God did not wait for us to get our collective acts together as a condition of atoning for our sin. Rather, God condescended to become a man and live among His people (John 1:14). God experienced our humanity—everything it means to be a human being—and then offered Himself willingly as a substitutionary atonement for our sin.

    This divine rescue mission results in a gracious act of self-sacrifice. As Jesus says in John’s gospel: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is precisely what God, in Christ, has done. The unconditional nature of God’s love is made clear in two more passages from Scripture:

    “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

    "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10).

    It is important to note that God’s love is a love that initiates; it is never a response. That is precisely what makes it unconditional. If God’s love were conditional, then we would have to do something to earn or merit it. We would have to somehow appease His wrath and cleanse ourselves of our sin before God would be able to love us. But that is not the biblical message. The biblical message—the gospel—is that God, motivated by love, moved unconditionally to save His people from their sin.

    What does it mean that God is love?

    Let’s look at how the Bible describes love, and then we will see a few ways in which God is the essence of love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 13:4-8a). This is God's description of love, and because God is love (1 John 4:8), this is what He is like.

    Love (God) does not force Himself on anyone. Those who come to Him do so in response to His love. Love (God) shows kindness to all. Love (Jesus) went about doing good to everyone without partiality. Love (Jesus) did not covet what others had, living a humble life without complaining. Love (Jesus) did not brag about who He was in the flesh, although He could have overpowered anyone He ever came in contact with. Love (God) does not demand obedience. God did not demand obedience from His Son, but rather, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father in heaven. “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). Love (Jesus) was/is always looking out for the interests of others.

    The greatest expression of God's love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We can see from these verses that it is God's greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal home, heaven. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

    So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24).

    Why does God love us?

    This short question is among the most profound questions ever asked. And no human would ever be able to answer it sufficiently. One thing is certain, however. God does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love. If anything, the opposite is true. The state of mankind since the fall is one of rebellion and disobedience. Jeremiah 17:9 describes man’s inner condition: “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Our innermost beings are so corrupted by sin that even we don’t realize the extent to which sin has tainted us. In our natural state, we do not seek God; we do not love God; we do not desire God. Romans 3:10-12 clearly presents the state of the natural, unregenerate person: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” How then is it possible for a holy, righteous, and perfect God to love such creatures? To understand this we must understand something of the nature and character of God.

    First John 4:8 and 16 tell us that “God is love.” Never was a more important declaration made than this; never was more meaning crowded into a few words than in this short sentence—God is love. This is a profound statement. God doesn’t just love; He is love. His nature and essence are love. Love permeates His very being and infuses all His other attributes, even His wrath and anger. Because God’s very nature is love, He must demonstrate love, just as He must demonstrate all His attributes because doing so glorifies Him. Glorifying God is the highest, the best, and the most noble of all acts, so, naturally, glorifying Himself is what He must do, because He is the highest and the best, and He deserves all glory.

    Since it is God's essential nature to love, He demonstrates His love by lavishing it on undeserving people who are in rebellion against Him. God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental, romantic feeling. Rather, it is agape love, the love of self-sacrifice. He demonstrates this sacrificial love by sending His Son to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin (1 John 4:10), by drawing us to Himself (John 6:44), by forgiving us of our rebellion against Him, and by sending His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, thereby enabling us to love as He loves. He did this in spite of the fact that we did not deserve it. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

    God's love is personal. He knows each of us individually and loves us personally. His is a mighty love that has no beginning and no end. It is this experiencing of God’s love that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. Why does God love us? It is because of who He is: "God is love."

    What is agape love?

    The Greek word agape is often translated "love" in the New Testament. How is "agape love" different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Nor does agape mean “charity,” a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.

    Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to love us, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The object of God’s agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.

    In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us, or even hate us, as the Jews did the Samaritans. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. But this type of love does not come naturally to humans. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. But, again, it is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.

    What is phileo love?

    The Bible speaks of two types of love: phileo and agape. Both are Greek terms and appear at different points throughout Scripture. The Greek language also had terms for two other types of love, eros and storge, which do not expressly appear in the Bible.

    To better understand phileo love, we need to take a brief look at the other types of love. Storge is an affectionate love, the type of love one might have for family or a spouse. It is a naturally occurring, unforced type of love. Some examples of storge love can be found in the stories of Noah, Jacob, and siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

    As its name indicates, eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). While eros is important within a marriage relationship and is created by God (see Song of Solomon), it can also be abused or mistaken for storge love. The Bible is clear that sexual immorality (out-of-control eros) is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

    Agape speaks of the most powerful, noblest type of love: sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling—it is an act of the will. This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins. Jesus was agape love personified. Christians are to love one another with agape love, as seen in Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

    Finally, we have phileo love. Philia refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy. The Scriptural account of David and Jonathan is an excellent illustration of phileo love: “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . . . And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1-3).

    Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies. However, God commands us to have agape love toward everyone. This includes those whose personalities clash with ours, those who hurt us and treat us badly, and even those who are hostile toward our faith (Luke 6:28; Matthew 5:44). In time, as we follow God’s example of agape love for our enemies, we may even begin to experience phileo love for some of them as we start to see them through God’s eyes.

    What is storge love?

    The ancient Greek language had four words to describe different types of love: agape, phileo, eros, and storge. Only two of these Greek words are used in the New Testament, agape (self-sacrificial love) and phileo (brotherly love).

    A third type of love, eros, expresses sexual love, but the word is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. The fourth Greek word for love is storge, which relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child. In the New Testament, the negative form of storge is used twice. Astorgos means “devoid of natural or instinctive affection, without affection to kindred.”

    Romans 1:31 describes sinful humanity as having “no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” The Greek word translated as “no love” is astorgos. The other instance of this word is found in 2 Timothy 3:3, where it is translated “without love.” Paul warns that one mark of the “terrible times in the last days” (verse 1) is that people will lack natural love for their own families.

    In Romans 12:10 we find an interesting compound: philostorgos is translated as “be devoted.” The word combines philos and storge and means “to cherish one’s kindred.” Believers in Christ, children of the same heavenly Father, are to “be devoted to one another in love.” As part of God’s family, we should show loving affection toward each other and be prone to love. Philostorgus is used only once in the New Testament, and that’s in Romans 12:10.

    What is eros love?

    Unlike English, in which the word love means many different things, Ancient Greek had four words to describe the range of meaning that our word love conveys. The first word is eros, from which we get the English word erotic. Eros was the word often used to express sexual love or the feelings of arousal that are shared between people who are physically attracted to one another. The word was also used as the name of the Greek god of love, Eros (the Romans called him “Cupid”). By New Testament times, this word had become so debased by the culture that it is not used even once in the entire New Testament.

    The second Greek word for “love” was storge, which referred to natural, familial love. Storge (a word not found in the Bible) referred to the type of love shown by a parent for a child. The third Greek word for “love” was philia, which forms part of the words philosophy (“love of wisdom”) and philanthropy (“love of fellow man”). This word speaks of the warm affection shared between friends. Whereas eros is more closely associated with the libido, philia is associated with the heart (metaphorically speaking). We feel love for our friends and family, obviously not in an erotic sense, but in the sense of being kind and affectionate. However, philia is not felt between people who are at enmity with one another. We can feel philia toward friends and family, but not toward people whom we dislike or hate.

    Different from all of these is the fourth Greek word for “love,” agapé, typically defined as the “self-sacrificing love.” This is the love that moves people into action and looks out for the well-being of others, no matter the personal cost. Biblically speaking, agapé is the love God showed to His people in sending His Son, Jesus, to die for their sins. It is the love that focuses on the will, not the emotions, experience, or libido. This is the love that Jesus commands His disciples to show toward their enemies (Luke 6:35). Eros and philia are not expressed to people who hate us and wish us ill; agapé is. In Romans 5:8, Paul tells us that God’s love for His people was made manifest in that “while we were still sinners [i.e., enemies], Christ died for us.”

    So, moving from the base to the pure, we have eros, storge, philia, and agapé. This is not to denigrate eros as sinful or impure. Sexual love is not inherently unclean or evil. Rather, it is the gift of God to married couples to express their love for one another, strengthen the bond between them, and ensure the survival of the human race. The Bible devotes one whole book to the blessings of erotic, or sexual, love—Song of Solomon in the Bible is filled with love stories. The love between a husband and a wife should be, among other things, an erotic love. However, a long-term relationship based solely on eros is doomed to failure. The “thrill” of sexual love wears off quickly unless there are some philia and agapé to go along with it.

    Even though there is nothing inherently sinful with erotic love, it is in this sphere that our sinful nature is easily made manifest because eros focuses primarily on sensuality and self. Storge, philia, and agapé focus on relationship and others. Consider what the apostle Paul tells the Colossian church: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). The Greek word for “sexual immorality” is porneia (the root of our word pornography). This essentially covers the gamut of sexual sin (adultery, fornication, etc.).

    When shared between husband and wife, erotic love can be a wonderful thing, but because of our fallen sin nature, expressions of eros too often become porneia. In dealing with eros, human beings tend to go to extremes, becoming either ascetics or hedonists. The ascetic completely eschews sensual or sexual love. The hedonist sees unrestrained sexual passion and all forms of sensuality as perfectly natural and to be indulged. The biblical view is a balance between these two sinful extremes. Within the bond of heterosexual marriage, God celebrates the beauty of sexual love: “Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers” (Song of Solomon 4:16—5:1). Outside of biblical marriage, eros becomes distorted and sinful.

    Does God have favorites?

    Whether or not God has favorites is a tricky question because it is based upon our human understanding of favoritism, which usually means unfair treatment of anyone who is not favored. To completely understand the answer, we have to start with the truth that God is always just (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 7:11). We know He loves everyone because every human being is created in His image (John 3:16; Lamentations 3:22–23; Genesis 1:26). His judgment is always right. So if He favors someone, it is the only right thing to do.

    When we think of favoritism, we imagine a place of higher status and less responsibility. But God’s favor often comes with added duties and more difficult challenges. Jesus was the embodiment of everything God favors. Many times in Scripture God calls Jesus “My Chosen One” (e.g., Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:17; 12:18; Luke 9:35). That title is also used to refer to Israel (Isaiah 45:4; 65:9; 1 Kings 11:13). God chose prophets and kings for His own sovereign reasons (Exodus 33:17; Daniel 10:11; 1 Samuel 2:26). God chose Solomon from all of David’s sons to become the next king (1 Chronicles 28:5–6). He gifted him financially, in popularity, and in wisdom (1 Kings 5:12).

    However, many of those whom God favored were persecuted and suffered hardship because of the mantle of responsibility God placed upon them. The angel Gabriel greeted Mary with these words: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). We have no further record as to why Mary was chosen, but the result of God’s favor upon her was that she had to bear great sorrow and difficulty as the mother of the Messiah. The “sword” would “pierce her soul” (Luke 2:35). Romans 9:14–16 sums up God’s sovereign right to choose: “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend upon human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

    So is God’s favor arbitrary? Do our choices have any impact on whether we are among His favorites? Isaiah 66:2 says, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” God wants to show us all His favor, but in His sovereign knowledge, He chooses some for special assignment and blessing. When God gave Moses instructions about building the tabernacle, He named two men that He had specifically chosen to do the artistic work. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri . . . and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge. . . . Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him” (Exodus 31:1–4, 6). Sometimes, God chooses people because He has gifted them in special ways for special service. As they fulfill the calling He placed on their lives, they find favor with Him (Exodus 33:13).

    God is not limited in His favor. He does not rank us in order of importance, nor is His favor something we must compete with one another to earn. Every child of God who comes to Him through faith in Jesus Christ has the favor of God. Psalm 5:12 says, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” It is not our own righteousness that earns us favor; we are declared righteous through the cleansing of our sins by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:21). As we grow in faith and seek to please Him, God demonstrates His favor by drawing near to us (James 4:8). He desires to bestow favor on everyone who seeks Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He grants spiritual gifts to all His children to use in His service (1 Corinthians 12:5–7; 1 Peter 4:10). Even the Lord’s discipline is a means of showing favor to His children. Hebrews 12:5–6 says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

    God’s favorites are His children, purchased through the blood of His Son (John 1:12). As we honor Jesus, God’s favor follows us. That favor may manifest itself through greater responsibility, blessing, or even suffering for His sake (Acts 5:41). The reward of His favor is His promise that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we are God’s favorites, we know He is always with us and will reward us for everything done for Him (Matthew 28:20; Revelation 22:12).

    Does God love everyone or just Christians?

    There is a sense in which God loves everyone in the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:8). This love in not conditional—it is based only on the fact that God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love for all of mankind results in the fact that God shows His mercy by not immediately punishing people for their sins (Romans 3:23; 6:23). God’s love for the world is manifested in the fact that He gives people the opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). However, God’s love for the world does not mean He will ignore sin. God is also a God of justice (2 Thessalonians 1:6). Sin cannot go unpunished forever (Romans 3:25-26).

    The most loving act of eternity is described in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Anyone who ignores God’s love, who rejects Christ as Savior, who denies the Savior who bought him (2 Peter 2:1) will be subject to God’s wrath for eternity (Romans 1:18), not His love (Romans 6:23). God loves everyone unconditionally in that He shows mercy to everyone by not destroying them immediately because of sin. At the same time, God only has “covenant love” for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:36). Only those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will experience God’s love for eternity.

    Does God love everyone? Yes. Does God love Christians more than He loves non-Christians? No. Does God love Christians to a different extent than He loves non-Christians? Yes. God loves everyone equally in that He is merciful to all. God has a unique relationship with Christians in that only Christians have His eternal grace and mercy and the promise of His forever love in heaven. The unconditional love God has for everyone should bring us to faith in Him, receiving in thankfulness the great conditional love He grants all those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

    What does the Bible say about tough love?

    “Tough love” is an expression that is generally thought of as a disciplinary measure where someone is treated rather sternly with the intention of helping him or her in the long run. Tough love may be the refusal to give assistance to a friend asking for help when to do so would simply allow him to continue along a dangerous path. However, with tough love in a biblical sense, the chastening hand is always controlled by a loving heart. As the wise King Solomon said, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). The Bible has much to say about tough love, particularly in Proverbs and Hebrews.

    To fully understand the importance of why tough love is sometimes necessary, we first need to understand the magnitude of the spiritual fight that is a significant part of the Christian life. Satan and his host of demons will make every attempt to knock us off the path of our spiritual journey, continually tempting Christians to give in to their sinful nature (1 Peter 5:8). As Christ told us, “Broad is the road that leads to destruction” and many will be on it (Matthew 7:13). A strong dose of tough love may be the most appropriate recourse to help one get off the road of destruction, especially if he’s been on it for a while.

    Unfortunately, however, many people, parents in particular, often equivocate when it comes to meting out tough love. Granted, firm disciplinary measures can be as unpleasant to the parent as they are to the child; that’s why it takes wisdom and courage. However, when we continually shield loved ones from the consequences of their errors, we often deprive them of the opportunity for the growth and maturity that could possibly eradicate their problematic behavior altogether. Additionally, we eliminate any incentive someone might have for change when we hesitate to save them from themselves. As the writer of Hebrews aptly informs us, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

    In Hebrews we see whom God punishes: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:5–6 emphasis added). We are to endure hardship as discipline, for God is treating us as sons (verse 7). If we are not disciplined, then we are not His “true sons” (verse 8). Additionally, the one receiving the discipline needs to see the sin that caused the correction the way God sees the sin. Our holy God is offended by sin and cannot tolerate it (Habakkuk 1:13).

    Tough love is often necessary because, as fallen humans, we have a tendency not to respond to gentle taps on the shoulder. Our heavenly Father will do whatever is necessary to conform His children into the likeness of Christ, as He predestined us for this very reason (Romans 8:29). Indeed, this is what His discipline is all about. And the better we understand His Word, the easier it will be for us to accept this. God will administer whatever amount of tough love is necessary so that our behavior will line up with our identity in Christ. Likewise, this should be a parent’s motive when correcting the behavior of a wayward child.

    What does the Bible say about charity?

    The word charity is found primarily in the King James Version of the Bible, and it nearly always means “love.” In the great “love chapter”—1 Corinthians 13—the KJV translates agape as “charity” while the modern translations render it more accurately as “love.” The only use of the word charity to indicate “giving” is Acts 9:36, which refers to Dorcas, a woman “full of good works and charity.” The Greek word here means “compassion, as exercised towards the poor; beneficence.” The KJV translates it “almsgiving.”

    The Bible has much to say about this second type of charity and how we are to care for the poor and needy among us. Perhaps one of the most famous passages on caring for those in need is in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. He says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:34-36, 40). Clearly, when we care for someone in need, we do the will of Christ.

    John writes, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17-18). Similarly, James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17). The way in which we care for the needy is a reflection of our love for Christ and our position as His children. In other words, it is evidence of our salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

    When considering a specific act of charity or a charitable organization in which to become involved, we are to exercise wisdom and discernment. God does not call us to blindly give to every need, but to seek His will on the matter. We are to be good stewards and do our best to ensure that the time, money and talents we give to charity are being used properly. Paul gave Timothy detailed instructions for caring for widows in the church, complete with what type of women should be included on the list and warnings about what could happen if charity was given improperly (1 Timothy 5:3-16).

    Charity need not always be in the form of money or what we would consider a typically “charitable” act. When Peter and John met a crippled beggar, rather than give the man coins, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). Charity is giving of whatever resources we have in order to meet the need of another. God’s instructions to the Israelites in Deuteronomy set the example for charitable giving for the Israelites. “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. This is why I command you to do this” (Deuteronomy 24:19-22). The primary thing to remember in charity is that all we have belongs to God, and all we give is a response to His love for us (1 John 4:19).

    When we see our resources not only as God’s provision for us but as tools He desires us to use to care for others, we begin to understand the vastness of His love and sovereignty. As spiritual children of Abraham, we, too, are “blessed to be a blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3). We are invited into relationship with God and with His people. When we care for those He loves, we care for Him. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

    Why is loving others often so difficult?

    Loving others can be extremely difficult at times. A common phrase to refer to those people that we consistently find ourselves challenged to love is “extra grace required” people. But even people we generally like can sometimes be difficult to love. The main reason we run into difficulties in loving others is sin, both ours and that of those we try to love. Humans are fallen creatures. Apart from God and His power, we are selfish, and loving ourselves comes much more naturally than loving others. But love is not selfish; it seeks the best for others (1 Corinthians 13:5; Philippians 2:3). Battling both our own selfishness and sin tendencies and dealing with the selfishness and sin tendencies of others can make love a chore.

    Another reason it can be difficult for us to love others is that we sometimes misunderstand what true love is. We tend to think of love as primarily an emotional response. The problem is that we cannot always control our emotions. We can certainly control what we do because of the emotions, but too often the emotions themselves just happen. But the kind of love God calls us to have for others is the same kind that He has for us. It is agape love, the essence of which is sacrifice. God’s love for us is a sacrificial love, the kind that sent Him to the cross for our sins. He didn’t save us because we were lovable; He saved us because His love caused Him to sacrifice Himself for us. Do we love others enough to sacrifice for them, even when they are not lovable? Loving others is a matter of the will and the volition, not the emotions.

    God died for us at our worst, in the midst of our sin, when we were totally unlovable (Romans 5:8; John 15:13). When we make sacrifices in order to love someone, we get a glimpse of the depth of God’s love for us, and we also reflect Him to the world. Jesus told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). Notice He didn’t say, “Feel loving toward one another.” He said, “Love one another.” He commanded an action, not a feeling.

    Part of the difficulty of loving others is that we often try to do it on our own, whipping up feelings of love where none exist. This can lead to hypocrisy and “play acting” the part of the loving person, when our hearts are really cold toward him or her. We must understand that we cannot love apart from God. It is when we remain in Jesus (John 15) and the Holy Spirit remains in us that we are able to bear the fruit of love (Galatians 5:22–23). We are told that God is love and that our love for one another is both enabled by God and a response to His love in us (1 John 4:7–12). It can be difficult for us to rely on God and to give ourselves to Him, but He also allows this difficulty so that His glory can be seen all the more. When we love difficult people or choose to love even when we do not feel like it, we demonstrate our reliance on God and allow His power to be displayed in and through us.

    Loving others is difficult because they are human and we are human. But in this difficulty we come to better appreciate the quality of God’s love for us. And when we love others in spite of their lack of lovability, God’s Spirit shines through, He is glorified, others are edified, and the world sees Christ in us.

    Unconditional Love: How to Give It and How to Know When It's Real

    According to the book Real Love, unconditional love is, in essence, true love -- so different from the kind of love most of us have known all our lives that it deserves a definition of its own. Unconditional love is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. It’s unconditional love when other people care about our happiness unconditionally. Now for me this is slightly “touchy feely." Even dipping into the conversation about love and true love and what is real love can give the impression that we’ve gone all soft and “hippie," but it’s important for each of us to be aware of when we have experienced unconditional love, and more importantly, how to share it with another individual. It is time to realize that there is a lot more to Unconditionally loving, than we allow ourselves to think.

    It is not unconditional love when other people like us for doing what they want or because we give them what they demand of us. Under those conditions we’re just “paying” for love in a way (or literally in some cases) with what we do to get that attention. We can be certain that we’re receiving unconditional love only when we make foolish mistakes, when we fail to do what other people want, and even when we get in their way, but they don’t feel disappointed or irritated with us. When we make a seemingly poor choice about our lives, take a wrong turn, undo or sabotage our own happiness... its unconditional love that keeps them right there, not judging or punishing but loving without conditions. It’s that love alone that has the power to heal all wounds, bind people together, and create relationships quite beyond our present capacity to imagine.

    To love another person under any circumstances is not relegated to passionate love either. It is not what the pop psychs refer to as “enabling” or just letting someone be discounting to us and you continue to accept the neglect. Unconditional love allows you to love yourself first, so that you have the strength of heart and mind to give the same to another person. Friends and family can be completely unconditional with their love for you, however it is pretty rare; we are programed to be conditional, to expect something in return for our love. Cannot say with complete confidence that we don’t place some degree of conditions on almost all our communication and interactions. We are quite specifically conditioned to only give love when we are reciprocated, and most often according to what we think is worthy of our love. Unconditional love is not a loan needing to be repaid, but a string-less gift of the heart - a gesture where only you benefit directly.

    On the occasion you are fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such an act of thoughtfulness, the experience can be both endearing and a bit awkward -- what do you do for someone who gives to you unconditionally of themselves and asks for nothing in return? Experiencing genuine unconditional love can given you a sense of value that is very treasured. Genuine unconditional love is a little strange to receive in our world of expectations and reactions, and yet if you allow yourself to be the receiver, it can be pretty terrific.

    So how do we love unconditionally?

    1. Loving unconditionally is more a behavior versus a feeling. Loving is the act of extending ourselves, vulnerabilities and all, into uncharted emotional territory with the belief that regardless of the outcome, we want to benefit another person. Imagine love as a behavior in and of itself, with the satisfaction being that feeling you get when you act a certain way for them, not when someone else acts a certain way to you. This becomes a pure act of generosity.

    2. Ask yourself "Am I truly acting with the most love I can for this person at this moment?" I know for most of us we can come to a situation with our egos too big and in the way of our unconditional responses... this stuff has to be a conscious act for most of us, so check yourself. Unconditional love is a entirely new process for us in every situation, and we want to convey sincerity with each person we extend that love to so that it is genuine and not conditional.

    3. There may be a situation in your life right now that’s uncomfortable to accept and your behaviors and reactions, while not harmful to you or others, are not necessarily in the best interest of your personal growth. To love someone unconditionally does not mean that the act of that love is always going to be easy or feel comfortable. To be there for someone when they have challenges and need to foster growth, even those individuals in the fog of confusion know that there is going to be pain and some serious discomfort -- if you choose to protect them from these feelings and emotions you’re not loving them unconditionally. Unconditional love means you tell them the truth with gentle, kind communication and you are there, without judgement, to see them to the other side.

    4. What does it mean if you are someone who only loves others, giving of yourself freely without any boundaries? That is you being a “people pleaser” which means you're not being unconditional or loving to yourself first. Playing the martyr is not rewarding or validating and only leaves you and the other person resentful. Work to recognize when doing what is best for you first might sometimes have you prioritizing your needs and desires above someone else's. This is a healthy part of defining who we are as individuals and crucial to know your own gauge for self-love. Remember, only when we know intrinsically that we have value to be loved, can we give love cleanly.

    5. Forgiveness is so important. Again, this is a behavior we all would like to think we have mastered but we haven’t. It’s probably the most difficult and truly unconditional act we perform. In any circumstance where we feel we have been wronged, neglected or taken advantage of, if someone doesn't apologize, it's inherently the most loving to them and to yourself to choose to let go of any anger and resentment. Harboring that energy is hurtful to you spiritually, and over time, physically. The noted author and philosopher Piero Ferrucci shares in his book, Beauty and Soul, that forgiving "is not something we do, but something we are." Granting forgiveness unconditionally isn’t communicating you’ll allow someone to be hurtful or discounting. The act of practicing unconditional love will be tainted and not at all healing if you choose to hold onto negative stuff. This is something we consciously work on every day. There is no perfect, simple way to love without conditions.

    Life is definitely conditional; if we don’t eat, sleep or drink water we will surely die. Scientists, philosophers, gurus, and priests have for centuries spoken of the “unconditional, perfect and everlasting love” and we know that it’s real, but not a given. We all have good and bad, light and dark behaviors and weaknesses, and to deny this human condition is to be ignorant to the foundation of our human nature. However, this expression of our kindest Self is a part of growth and generosity we can all benefit from every moment of every day.

    Unconditonal Love

    Unconditional love is a rare and sometimes difficult thing. Parents may profess to love their children unconditionally. But how often do children test the limits of parental love? Couples in the first blush of new love may make dewy-eyed promises to love each other for better or for worse. But how often do such promises give way to betrayal and recrimination? Still, it’s an amazing gift when it does happen. And it’s one that we all want. We all want someone who will love us forever, through thick and thin, no matter what we do or become.

    Unconditional love is the highest form of love. Most religions certainly seem to believe that. That’s why they attribute unconditional love for all mankind to God. It’s why Christ commands Christians to love thy neighbor as thyself. But, of course, unconditional love is easy for God -- with his infinite patience and boundless capacity to forgive. You can’t hurt God – not really. But humans are vulnerable. In us, too much hurt, betrayal or disappointment kills even the deepest, most enduring love. That is why we need God's wisdom, understanding, knowledge, help and guidance on how to love one another unconditionally and unselfishly.

    Of course, it’s one thing to focus on the work it takes for us to give or sustain unconditional love. Which can turn out to be hard at times. But think about what it’s like to be the recipient of such love. That seems, at first blush, to be a really good thing to the recipient of. Who wouldn’t want to be loved unconditionally, despite all your flaws and failings?

    On the other hand, maybe unconditional love isn’t all its cracked up to be. Don’t people want to be loved and appreciated for who and what they are? When somebody loves me unconditionally, doesn’t that mean they don’t care who I am or what I do and they are blind to my particularity? But isn’t love about delighting in the particularity of the other?

    Just because you love somebody unconditionally, doesn’t mean you don’t care about what they are or what they do. Presumably, if you love them, you want them to be their best self. You might even hope and believe that your love will help them become that. The “unconditional” part of unconditional love just means that you won’t withdraw love when things go badly.

    Still it seems to me that bad behavior on the part of the beloved has to have consequences or else the other person involved becomes a mere patsy. Think of battered women who won’t give up on their abusive partners. That is not a model of “unconditional” love, that’s a model of person with a damaged sense of self-worth who is, perhaps, in a state denial, Even when it is unconditional, genuine love doesn’t just involve passive acceptance and blind forgiveness. Unconditional love can be tough and demanding. When our children do bad things, we punish them. We give them stern messages. But we still love them. In fact, we punish them because we love them. Unconditional love may be selfless, but it isn't self destructive.

    We can love someone unconditionally from a distance while having conditions for how they treat us. We can pray for them, wish them well, and want the best for them while maintaining boundaries about how we are treated. Unconditional love in its purest sense doesn’t mean allowing someone to repeatedly abuse or harm us, no matter what.

    What does selfless mean though? Selfless love is love that never asks what’s in it for me/ Rather, it is always asking what’s in it for the beloved. What do I need to do to make the life of the beloved better, no matter the cost to myself? Paradoxically, perhaps, when you love somebody unconditionally, it actually puts you in a unique position to hold them to high standards. That’s because when you love them unconditionally, there is no threat involved in your holding them to such standards – since the very holding is itself rooted in an act of love. You can think of unconditional love as an offer to the beloved for a precious resource that is used for the good and betterment of the beloved.

    Are most human beings really capable of this selflessness? For most of us, doesn't the self just get in the way? Even when we think we’re acting out of selfless devotion, we often have hidden selfish motives. We sometimes tell ourselves that romantic love is selfless. But romantic love wants to be reciprocated. That makes it’s almost the opposite of selfless.

    Still, don't be too quick to underestimate people. Some people really seem to have an amazing capacity for selfless love. It is also important to stress, though, that unconditional love is a gift, not an entitlement. Nobody really deserves our unconditional love. Nobody has the right to demand that you love them selflessly. That would be, well, pretty selfish of them, wouldn't it? Christ commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves not out of a sense of duty and obligation, but out of a sense of selfless generosity and charity.

    Is this anything more than a nice sounding ideal, that fails to apply to most people, most of the time? Sure hope so. Wouldn't you much rather live in a world in which unconditional love is a concrete reality in many people’s lives than in a world in which it is absent. When you think about where to locate concrete examples of unconditional love, think about parents and their children. If we’re going to find real live examples of unconditional love anywhere, parents are a good place to start looking. Children can put their parents through an awful lot. But most of the time through it all parental love typically remains entirely undiminished. Some philosophers have actually argued that parental love is the pureest form of love. That's because in its healthiest form, parent love is selfless in the sense that is articulated above. And though parents may love in the hope that their love will one day be reciprocated, such love begins without even the expectation of the possibility of reciprocation and it will happily persist undiminished even in the absence of eventual reciprocation.


    Hello my faithful supporters, ALL IS SO VERY WELL WITH YOU I AM HOPING, I, Martha Wooden the hostess and creator of RYM-TYM want to thank you much for stopping by. FOREVER AND EVER OH! RADIO SHOW wants to thank all of you who have tuned in to listen to all of the live broadcasts that have been aired online during standard mountain time. Greatly looking forward to hosting the next show which will be airing live again soon in this year of 2015. The next show and the new topic of discussion will be posted and scheduled on the OH! RADIO SHOW website. No I have not at all forgotten about YOU and I Thank YOU so Very Much for Not forgetting about ME! Forever thanks for staying with me. Will be airing a live Health and Fitness show as well as adding and broadcasting live an open bible study class, all coming to you live on the "OH! RADIO SHOW'. Will no doubt continue the topic discussions about Relationships of All Kinds. Greatly Appreciate your much needed patience.

    Once the next show is posted and scheduled please save the date and be sure to tune in at the scheduled time to the OH! RADIO SHOW live on air broadcast. Coming soon, more OUT-SPOKEN HEART to HEART radio topic discussions.

    Just a reminder to you from the "OH! RADIO SHOW" host, once a show is scheduled to air live, be sure to check back frequently just in case for radio show rescheduling. Pre-Scheduled show dates and times are subject to change at any given time, sorry, but only if very necessary.


    Any bold hot topics that are discussed on my radio shows and that are also shared on my Blog Talk webpage are not in any way meant to bring fear upon you, single you out, alienate you, belittle you, cast down, demoralize or discourage you, bewitch you, threaten or intimidate you, offend you, condemn you or pass judgement upon you. But all of the information that is shared on this website in which you have chosen to freely view, read and hear is only meant to draw you closer together in connection with a much powerful, purpose driven and unique YOU in gaining the freedom to daily live in liberty with your own true self as well as among all others in a much more healthier, respectful, peaceful, genuine, unconditional and loving way.

    UNCONDITIONAL LOVE INFLUENCE....click on this link to read 1 CORINTHIANS 13




    Martha Wooden (RYM-TYM & OH! RADIO SHOW Creator/Host)

    Remember to keep Smiling GOD LOVES YOU and I-I-I-I do too.....

    God's love is A genuine, unconditonal, very special, unique to you and a very personal LOVE that you would never have to question or doubt.

    Thanks much for visiting, viewing, listening and reading


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