As a result of an over-emphasis on God’s righteousness and justice, many Christians believe and teach that any goodness shown to the unbeliever is merely God’s goodness and providence at work and excludes any benevolent affection, emotion and pleasure which we normally associate with the term love. But the Bible makes it clear that God is love. This is affirmed twice in John’s first epistle (1 John 4:8, 16). It follows, then, that God demonstrates His love in a tangible manner. In other words, God is not indifferent to human life. Throughout church history people referred to God’s love as the cause of His common grace and goodness to all mankind and creation in general.
But does the Bible uses the word love to describe God’s relationship to those who reject the truth? The answer is a resounding “Yes”. In the evangelistic encounter with the rich young man, while the rich young man was openly rejecting Jesus’ personal call to discipleship, Mark writes that Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21). Furthermore, Jesus had no problem with affirming God’s love to those that are His enemies. The well-known verse when Jesus mentions that God makes the sun and the rain to fall on the good and the evil is placed in the centre of the topic of love (Matt 5:44-48). MacArthur comments on this phrase and states
“This plainly teaches that God’s love extends even to His enemies. This universal love of God is manifest in blessings which God bestows on all indiscriminately. Theologians refer to this as common grace. This … is a sincere goodwill.”
(John MacArthur. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006, Matt 5:44, 45.)
With such a daily expression of love from God to them, ought we who love God not also therefore to love our neighbour?