The New Testament teaches that our family resemblance to God acquired at the new birth is what empowers us to love as God loves. God’s love toward us not only gives us the ability to love, but gives us the model for love as well. In fact, several of the New Testament writers implore us to demonstrate our family resemblance by imitating God in how we love.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:1-2).
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25).
“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (I Jn 3:16-18).
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I Jn 4:10-11).
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:35-36).
This is just a sampling of the idea that when we love, we imitate the love of God, our Father. As Paul Miller wrote in Love Walked Among Us, “Jesus didn’t say we should love our enemies because ‘that’s what love does’, He said we should love because that’s what the Father is like.”