Think about that verse for a moment.
What is love?
Love is not defined by us and our affections. Love is defined by God, and his actions toward us. Love is not that we loved God. This comes as a tremendous jolt to anyone who tries to work their way to God. This verse is clear that our love is not impressive. And, it's not impressive simply because we ought to love God.
God has created everything. He ordains all things. He is working all things together for His glory and the believer's ultimate good. God orchestrates the rainfall, the hurricanes, the smallest atom. God is infinitely greater than all of creation, and he has given to us humans this earth to truly enjoy. Based on all of these gifts, every human being should be eternally grateful. So, our love is really not the deepest form of love simply because we ought to love him.
But what about God's love?
Oh, his love is tremendous! His love is glorious. His love is beyond our comprehension. He defines love (1 John 4:8). Why is his love so vastly different and more worthy of praise than our love?
Going beyond the reasons stated above, we simply have to look at the words in verse 10 again.
- God sent his Son. This is enough of a price. Jesus, God the Son, became flesh. He took on the form of a man, and lived a humble life away from the always visible presence of God the Father. As a human father, I am sad when my boys are away for a short period of time, but imagine the cost of this sending on God the Father.
- Jesus was an atoning sacrifice for our sin. It's not simply that Jesus took a vacation and was coming back in a little while. Jesus was sent for a purpose. God's love is expressed in the sending and also in the reason for the sending: for Jesus to endure God's wrath for our sins so that we might be righteous.
And, because of this love, God counts our dependent, Spirit-empowered love as love back towards him.
What an amazing God!