He loved us first. He did not have to. He was under no obligation to love us first. He just did. It's his nature. But so is justice. So is righteousness. But God chose to exercise his love. He loved us first.
We love him because he first loved us. We would not know love if he did not love us first. We might understand affection. But love? That's a God-thing. And he first loved us. So now we love him. We stretch our arms upward to him, wanting to be held. And accepted. To be with him. It's something that happens when you love someone. You want to be with them. You want to deny yourself because he loved you first. You don't mind taking up your cross. You want to follow.
You can trust him because he loves you. Because if he loves you, you can know he wants the best for you. It may not look like the best thing. But his love is steadfast. So you can trust him.
We love one another because he first loved us. If God did not love me first, I don't know if I could love you. Not the way I am supposed to. But God loved me first. So I now I can love you, even when you are unlovable. Now you can love me, even when I show my ugly side to you.
We love our enemies because he first loved us. I was his enemy. I raged against him. I plotted evil in my bed. I twisted the truth to fit my point of view. I--well, you get the picture. Yet, while was his enemy, God sent Jesus to suffer my penalty. He took my punishment and applied that to his own Son. Then he offered me a pardon. He offered me peace. He offered full forgiveness.
Now I can love my enemies. I can love the men or women who ripped up 600 feet of hand rails off new stairs we built on the steep hillsides of one community. I can love the man who stole cement to make a new patio in front of his store. Because God loved me first, I can walk two miles with the one who asked me to walk one.
Love is there, right along with hope and faith. But faith did not send Christ to the cross for me. Hope did not send him to the cross for me. It was love. The greatest of these is love.