God is the only one for whom, “I love you,” is a complete sentence. For everyone else, those three words are the beginning of a spoken or, more likely, unspoken sentence. There’s a “because” or “until” or “if” or “but” that follows the, “I love you.”
“I love you because you make me happy.”
“I love you but I love someone else more.”
“I love you until you cheat on me.”
“I love you because you’re my son.”
“I love you if you love me.”
We love because we find in the beloved something that is lovable. We see, we know, and then we love. Or, at least, we promise to love.
Not so with God. He loves first, without finding anything worthy of love in us. He does what he is. And when he loves, his love transforms the beloved into something truly lovely.
He takes me—a filthy, self-absorbed man reeking of every vice hell ever spawned—and before I clean up my act, before I show signs of repentance, before anything, God loves me. There is no “because” or “until” or “if” or “but”. There is only the God who loves because that’s who he is, quite literally.