A popular song of some years ago had these lyrics: “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” As children we used to say, “I love you a ton!”
Let me ask you a question. How do you measure your love? How do you measure your love for your friends, for the opposite sex, for your husband or your wife, for your parents or your children, for your brothers or your sisters, for anyone whom you say your love?
Masumi Toyotome in his little book, Three Kinds of Love, lists three possible attitudes toward love. Reading it, it becomes a mirror in which you might see yourself—perhaps for the very first time.
The first kind of love is IF love. “I will love you if.....” Parents say to their children, “I will love you if you are good.” Children say to their parents, “I will love you if you buy me the toy I want.” Wives and husbands say, “I will love you if you will change into the person I want you to be.” IF love is conditional, it always has strings attached.
The second kind of love is BECAUSE love. “I love you because you are beautiful.” “I love you because you are rich.” “I love you because you let me have my way.” BECAUSE love always has to be earned. One who is loved BECAUSE lives in constant fear. There is always the dread that another will come along who is more beautiful, richer or more indulgent. Insecurity creeps in and we try to hide the unacceptable side of ourselves. After all, we are loved only BECAUSE.
The third kind of love is IN SPITE OF love. You don’t have to earn it; you don’t have to deserve it. You are loved. That’s all. Regardless of whatever, IN SPITE OF anything and everything, you are loved.
It is God’s kind of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is Christ’s kind of love. He doesn’t say to us, “I will love you IF you are good, IF you go to church.” Nor does he say, “I love you BECAUSE YOU....” He says simply, “I love you.” Period. There are no conditions, no requirements, no strings attached. We need only to accept his love.
And how do we know we have accepted it? He gives us the ability to love others. As we read in God’s word, “We love because he first loved us.” No IF, no BECAUSE. In spite of what they are, in spite of what they are not, we love everybody, period.