God’s Responsive Love
God works in our lives
not only in a sovereign way,
but also in response to
our love for Him
Christians commonly speak of God’s “sovereign love,” which He exercises in bringing us to salvation, and throughout the rest of our lives as well. And personally, the longer I have been in the Lord, the more I appreciate that if we are ever able to stand for the Lord and pursue Him, it is only because of His sovereign love, mercy, and grace upon us. Thank the Lord for this!
This is actually quite normal. C.A. Coates, in his Outline of the Song of Songs (which I’ve been reviewing lately), states that “it is rather striking” that the Song of Songs does not explain the origin of the Seeker until its final chapter (Song. 8:5). According to Coates, this is because it is only at this point that she can fully appreciate that everything in her seeking has been of God’s grace. And he adds, this will be true of us as well:
In the early stages of our spiritual history we are conscious of certain experiences, but we have no clear understanding of how entirely we are indebted to grace for every spiritual movement in our souls.
— Pages 201-202
So, our appreciation of God’s sovereign love should always be growing as we go on with the Lord.
And yet, God’s truth is always two-sided, and to be balanced in our walk with the Lord we must grasp both sides of His truth. In this case, in addition to appreciating His sovereign love, we must also appreciate what we may refer to as God’s “responsive love.” That is, God works in our lives in response to our love for Him and our seeking of Him.
If we truly love the Lord and give ourselves to Him, He will bring us into all He desires to give us of Himself. However, if we are indifferent or cold towards Him, He will not have the ground to work in our lives in this way. (We saw one example of this in our previous Note, which also dealt with the Song of Songs, “The Daughters of Jerusalem.“)
The Lord Himself told us, in His fellowship with the apostles just before He was betrayed:
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
— John 14:23
Here the Father and the Son’s loving us, and coming to us to make their home with is, is conditional; it depends on our loving the Lord and keeping His word. If we do not love Him, and thus do not keep His word, we will not experience His love or His work in us in this way. This is God’s responsive love; it is God loving us and working in our lives based on how we love and seek Him.
We see God’s responsive love all throughout the Bible, beginning with Adam’s fall, to His dealings with the Patriarchs and then with the nation of Israel, all the way to the letters to the seven churches in Revelation and beyond.
If we only see the side of God’s sovereign love we will become passive in our spiritual seeking; sadly, this has happened to so many Christians today. To be healthy, our appreciation of His sovereign love must be balanced by a clear understanding of His responsive love. Only then we will appreciate our responsibility to rise up and seek the Lord in an active, even aggressive, way, so that He will have the ground to bring us into all that He intends for us.
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— 5 February 2022 —