What is Unconditional Love? 10 Important Ways Know and Recognize It
- Michelle Lazurek Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 23 Apr
What makes love unconditional? The definition of unconditional is without restrictions or limits - unquestioning. How can you be certian of unconditional love and where can you find it? There is one true source of this kind of love and it's God. If we want to learn to love others unconditionally, we must look to God who is the perfect source.
I didn’t know what unconditional love was until I met Jesus. If I’m honest, I may never fully understand how God can still love me even when I do things that sever our relationship. Yet, Jesus allows us to experience the love of the Father through His death. Do you want to love people unconditionally? Here are 10 things you should know:
1. God never runs out of unconditional love.
God’s love is infinite. There will never be a day when God doesn’t love you. You can’t do or say anything to revoke God’s love: that’s the gospel in a nutshell.
The problem is, in our finite world, we get rejected by our friends, our marriages sometimes end in divorce, and our parents don’t support us in the way we desire. Is it any wonder we don’t fully understand God’s love for us?
But by working on our relationship with God, reaching out to Him, and trusting Him for everything we can begin to know an unconditional love we have not known (or will ever know again).
2. Unconditional love makes sacrifices.
Perhaps the most well-known verse is 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.”
God’s love is so far-reaching that He sacrificed His own son to pay the penalty for our sin and bridge the gap between sinners and a holy God.
God has already made the ultimate sacrifice for us. If we want to love this way, we need to make sacrifices, too. Sometimes it means we must sacrifice our comfort, time, or other resources to love others the way God loves us.
When we surrender ourselves to loving others with no strings attached, we can reap the benefits of all that unconditional love has to offer.
3. You don’t have to earn unconditional love.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”This is an extraordinary concept to consider. Jesus’ death on the cross already paid for our salvation. By taking on the penalty for sin, He made it possible for God to offer His unconditional love to us.
In America today, however, it is common to believe that everything (including love) must be earned. Yet, following Christ means God’s love comes free of charge.
Still, for most of my life, I’ve tried to earn it. I felt like if I just completed a certain task, read my Bible, or prayed in a certain way I could be on God’s good side. But Christ’s death erased all that. Although bible reading and prayer are important, there is no required amount that I have to do to earn more of God’s love.
4. You just have to accept it.
The woman at the well was looking for love in all the wrong places. After several husbands and then being with someone else, she was tired. Love had hung her out to dry—until she met Jesus: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’”(John 4:13).
When Jesus offered her the living water of salvation, the woman’s life was changed. This once shy, intimidated woman was proclaiming from the rooftops what Jesus had done for her.
We don’t have to settle for subpar relationships trying to fill the void within our souls. Jesus has already offered us the living water of salvation. All we have to do is drink it.
5. You can never lose unconditional love.
In the story of the lost son in Luke, both the prodigal son and the eldest son are lost in different ways. The eldest brother can’t understand why his younger brother is getting celebrated for his repentance, while he, the eldest, does the right thing by taking care of his father and is not rewarded.
“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:29-30)
Yet readers find in this story an unconditional love that seems unbelievable: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:31-32).
Nothing can separate you from the love of God, no matter how badly you believe you have messed up your life. With a heart of repentance, you can always come back to the Father. He will greet you with a kiss and invite you to a party thrown in your honor.
6. To be like Christ, you have to love unconditionally.
This is easier said than done. It is easy to love those that are easy to love. But how difficult is it when God asks you to love someone who is annoying and mistreats you over and over again?
Love is an action. It takes practice. It is not just a feeling that is here today and gone tomorrow.
It takes work to maintain and means knowing who Jesus is so you can love others like He did. It takes communication, sacrifice, and commitment to be more like Him.
Praying, listening, journaling, and attending church regularly are just some of the ways you can practice nurturing your relationship with God so you can nurture your relationships with others, too.
7. Unconditional love means surrendering your expectations.
Conditional love is only offered when certain requirements are met: “I love you if…” or “I love you when you…” If we want to love unconditionally, we must surrender our expectations of what the other person can do for us. That means not putting a person in a box, forcing them to conform to parameters we place upon the relationship.
Expectations can be one of the biggest barriers to giving (and receiving) unconditional love. When we love freely and don’t expect anything in return from others, we ultimately experience the gift of unconditional love.
8. When you love yourself freely, you are free to love others unconditionally.
The only way you can love others is to love yourself. Although some confuse this with self-help advice, it is possible (and biblical) to love ourselves. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
We are only known when we know God. When God tells us we are His children, heirs to the throne, and part of His royal priesthood, we can live every day not worrying about what others feel or think about us. Then we can resist the devil’s lies and see others from the same perspective God sees us.
When we look through the lens of the word and see people the way Jesus sees them, we will gain a new perspective both of ourselves and others. We will care in new ways for people, desperate to see them experience the same thing we have experienced. We will tell others about who we are in Christ and show them that they can be children of God, too.
9. When you lay down your life for God, you pick up unconditional love.
Fitness, shopping,alcohol, drugs, promiscuity—these are all ways we try to fill the God-shaped hole that is deep in our hearts. But when we surrender our desire to be loved, God meets us in a way that satisfies our deep need to be loved and known.
When we try to control God by taking control of certain areas in our lives, it poses a barrier between us and God.
Because His love is foreign, it is difficult to grasp. The same love we long for is available to us in Jesus, but we refuse to lay down our control.
Yet when we give our everything to Jesus—even the people and things we hold most dear—He fills us with an unexplainable love. When that love fills our hearts, we cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, and from our lives pour out love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. And that’s a life we can be proud of.
10. Forgiveness is the soil that allows unconditional love to grow.
So often, people hurt us and we become a victim of their sin. While we may get over it, we don’t always do the work of healing ourselves from that pain.
The main salve of healing is to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiveness is so important to Jesus that He not only tells us to forgive seventy-times-seven, but also warns us that if we don’t forgive others, He won’t forgive us. Those are harsh words!
A lack of forgiveness leads to anger, disappointment, and when unchecked, bitterness. And bitterness becomes the root of not loving others. If left unchecked, that root will burrow into the ground so deep it becomes almost impossible to uproot.
Yet, when we let others out of the jail cell of unforgiveness, they are free to love themselves, and we are free to love them in a new way. That is unconditional love’s power.
Unconditional love might be a foreign concept to you, but it doesn’t have to be. When we love, forgive, and see others with new eyes because we have let Jesus meet our needs for love and intimacy, we are set free. That’s the power Jesus’ death afforded us.
Unconditional love is available to you today. Will you love others the way Jesus loves you?
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre, award-winning author, speaker, writing coach, pastor's wife and mother. As a literary agent for Wordwise Media services, she is a sought after workshop presenter at popular writers' conferences like She Speaks and Greater Philly Christian Writers conference. Please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
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