The article by Robert Wachter “Be Confident in God’s Love for You (Not the Other Way Around)” on http://www.pathoes.com/evangelical on JANUARY 27, 2022 spoke to me so I decided to reproduce it here with a few minor amendments.
“Many believers have their theology backward. Instead of learning how to receive God’s love, they spend their energy trying to love God better. Let’s be clear. The message of the gospel has always been God’s love for humanity (not the other way around). If we focus on achieving love rather than receiving love, we have the gospel backward.
Despite his flaws, Peter was the type of guy you would want in your corner during a street fight. When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Unfortunately, Peter’s passion to defend his friends also represented his greatest weakness. He would soon learn the painful lesson that his love for Jesus was imperfect.
Jesus warned the disciples that each of them would abandon Him. Despite the warning, Peter stood in strong opposition. “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:33). Peter’s overconfidence in his love for God at this moment is striking. He felt that his love for Jesus was unflappable. Paul once said, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).
Although he felt brave at the moment, Peter’s love was not strong enough to withstand the pressure of a humble servant girl. On the night that Jesus stood on trial with the Sanhedrin, the girl approached Peter and insisted that he was one of the disciples. This was followed by several other people who made the same accusation. In each case, Peter vehemently denied knowing Jesus. “I don’t know the man!” he pushed back (Matthew 26:72). Finally, Peter realized that his resolve to love Jesus had failed miserably. He broke down in tears at the realization.
Don’t Be Confident in Your Love for God
This must have been a tough lesson for Peter, but it also represented the start of an exciting new season. We must all reach the point where we understand our ability to love God is limited to human strength. The believer’s ability to love has been initiated, developed, and strengthened by God; therefore, we must place our confidence securely in the love of Christ. John the apostle said it best: “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 4:10). The message of the gospel has always been God’s love for humanity, not the other way around.
After the resurrection, Jesus took the time to restore Peter in front of the other disciples. He asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15). Peter responded to the question, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” The version of the word love that Jesus used was agapas, which speaks to love that comes from God. However, the version of the word love that Peter used in response was philio, which expresses a reciprocal type of love. In other words, Peter learned that his strength to love God was established first on God’s love for him.
Be Confident in God’s Love for You
The moral of the story is simple. We can’t love without first being loved. We are merely conduits of God’s love to the world. Therefore, we must learn Peter’s lesson so that we place no confidence in our love for God. We must rest firmly in God’s love for us. The message of the gospel is clear. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), not the other way around.
I post a lot on this site about God’s coming judgement when He will pour out His wrath upon an unrepentant world so it is good to post on the extent of God’s love for us.