We often hear that a parent’s love for his or her child is unconditional. Spouses promise to love each other “for better or worse, richer or poorer in sickness and health.” Best friends love each other through the good times and the bad. Hearing these statements makes it seem as if unconditional love is an innate response, which happens without effort. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Unconditional love is difficult to achieve. It’s selfless and vulnerable. It requires us to overlook the things that don’t fall in line with our own thinking. In a nutshell, unconditional love is a great sacrifice.
So many of us claim to give unconditional love while still setting up limitations around giving our love. Is your love conditional? Is there a price others have to pay to receive your love? Are you generous with your time, money and possessions? If you give someone something, do you expect something in return? Do you give your time freely or do you “fit it in” when it’s convenient for you?
In John 3:16 we read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” Note the sequence—God loved, so he gave. The unconditional love has to precede the giving.
Because God is love, he is also a giver. His unconditional love comes to us freely. Nothing we do can make God love us less. And there is no way to make God love us more. His unconditional love flows to us completely and freely. Yet, from our side of the equation we may require certain conditions to be fulfilled before we can accept his unconditional love.
Think about holding tightly with both hands to something you treasure. Your hands are wrapped around this item so tightly there is no way to hold onto anything else. God comes along and offers you something else. Something better. He is giving this miraculous treasure to you freely and unconditionally. But in order to accept what he is offering, you have to let go of what you are holding. From your side of the equation, you have put a condition on accepting God’s gift. You must let go of what you are grasping in order to accept what is offered.
In order for us to fully accept everything God offers, we have to let go of worldly attachments. All the stuff we hold onto just gets in the way of accepting his gift. There is no room in our hands for both. Something in us must change in order for us to truly receive this unconditional offer of God’s love.