“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
Have you ever felt unrecognized and unappreciated for your efforts toward someone? We have all felt ingratitude at some point in our lives and it's not a good feeling. We put our hearts, thoughts, and actions for that person first but no acknowledgement. I think God feels this everyday and yet holds back His anger with mercy.
The verse above from Malachi displays the arrogance and ingratitude of Israel towards God's love to and for them. God's love had shown them great kindness, even when He rebuked them. Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." M. Henry states, God’s people need to be often reminded of his love to them. “I have loved you, but you have not loved me, nor made any suitable returns for my love.”
Can we not look 'everywhere' and see God's love surrounding us. In creation, in protection, in giving us what we don't deserve, and in withholding the wrath that we do deserve, in strength for today, for the hope and promise of everlasting life for those who believe and for the greatest gift of all, His Son who became flesh to pay with his life our sin debt. Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
God loves us through all the suffering and trials of this life. "The sufferings of the righteous will have an end and will end well; all their grievances will be redressed, and their sorrow turned into joy; but the sufferings of the wicked will be endless and remediless." [M. Henry]
1 Peter 1:6-9
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
God, who created us in His own image, does not want us to be separated from Him by sin. He cannot justly overlook sin either. Therefore John 3:16-17 explains, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." There is and never will be a greater act of love than God becoming flesh, enduring a life of ridicule and pain without sinning, giving up His life for ours so that we might be saved, and declaring victory over death with His Resurrection. "Amazing love, how can it be, that my King would die for me?"
As for us, I hope that rather than be like Israel in questioning how God has loved us, that we would ask ourselves "How have I thanked God for all the ways He has shown me His love?" Is my prayer life thankful? Are my life choices righteous ones? Is my life God-honoring? Do I put God first, above all else? Actions speak louder than words, so let your Light shine to all, as a testimony of His love to you.