“I love you,” I blurted out on one of the first dates with the woman who would one day be my wife. I’ll never forget how she replied.
“I love chocolate cake. What does that mean?” She was skeptical of a guy who would say he loved her with so little understanding of who she really was.
The Bible says “God is love.” Few people would argue with that. But most folks think God’s love is no different in kind or strength than my wife’s love for chocolate cake.
It’s much more powerful than that.
An old song says, “Love is a many splendored thing.” But when it comes to understanding the love of God it is perhaps more accurate to call it a many splintered thing. God’s love has been cut from its frame of reference, hacked to pieces by well-meaning people and heretics alike.
So let’s try to put it back in the frame with a few key concepts.
First, God’s love is sacrificial. The Apostle John, who penned the words, ‘God is love’ spelled it out for us.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:8b-9). John also wrote the very familiar, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
That tells us that God’s love is sacrificial, but a sacrifice for what?
In his excellent book, The God Who Loves, John MacArthur points out that God’s wrath is also part of our frame of reference. “We have forgotten that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). As Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “We do not believe in that kind of God anymore.”
We can decide not to believe hurricane warnings either, but that won’t keep them from coming ashore.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” 
Ever been party to the suppression of the truth? Anytime? Ever? I have. All of us have and are deserving of wrath. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23.
The love of God cannot be understood apart from the wrath of God. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact neither one can be fully appreciated without the other. God’s hatred for sin and evil is the back side of the coin of his love. He wouldn’t be loving if he didn’t hate evil, including the evil that is inside each one of us. Only the power of his love could overcome our sin and absorb his just wrath against it.
God’s love is sacrificial because it absorbed the wrath that we deserve.
If you’ve looked for a job lately you know that the benefits are almost as important as the salary. We know we’ll be paid. But will we be covered?
That’s another piece of the frame.
Psalm 103 says that God’s love ‘has us covered’. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”— Then the Psalmist lists the benefits and the first on the list is: “who forgives all your sins…”
God’s love is not only sacrificial; it is also beneficial in that it makes us guilt free.
Guilt is the great crippler. Guilt stunts God-given potential. Guilt saps courage, binds us to the past, and alienates us from God and one another. A guilty mind can’t think with power. A guilty heart can’t love with abandon. Even if there was such a thing as an insurance policy for sin, a guilty soul could never do enough to cover its own deductible.
But the Psalmist says, “Praise the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins…” God’s love frees us from guilt.
If you are feeling burdened by guilt remember, God loves you so much that he’s paid the debt, absorbed his own wrath against our evil, and removed our shame. Take your sins to him and ask for forgiveness. He will give it. He’s got you covered.
MacArthur, J., F., Jr. (2003, c1996). The God Who Loves. (10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Ro 1:18–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.