- The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. […] In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. - 1 John 4:8, 10
His love is not an emotional feeling or response but rather a reasoned-out love. According to Henry Thiessen, God’s love is “that perfection of the divine nature by which God is eternally moved to communicate himself. It is not a mere emotional impulse, but a rational and voluntary affection, having its ground in truth and holiness and its exercise in free choice.” (1)
God’s love is sacrificial, springing from a deliberate choice regardless of what it is given in return. The choice is rational and voluntary. Because God's love is bound by His holiness and perfection it is discriminatory. It is not equally disseminated to all. God loved Jacob and hated Esau. The term hate (miseo), as used in this context, means to love less.
- Just as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. - Romans 9:13
As well, in His love, God allows those He loves to suffer pain, tragedy, and loss. Again, because His love is bound by holiness, His holiness demands that God judges sin. That judgment results in pain, tragedy, and loss.
- Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 86.