What is unconditional love? Is it affection without any limitations? Love without conditions? According to the book Real Love by Greg Baer, M.D., “Unconditional love is, in essence, true love. So different from the kind of love most of us have known all our lives that it deserves a definition of its own. Unconditional love is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves.”

How can we experience this kind of love? How does Jesus’ love for us give us hope for our own relationships? The Bible has many descriptions of love and the most often heard is, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV).

Many of our relationships, whether it’s with a spouse, children, parents, or friends, come with trials and pain. We are often hurt by those who say they love us. The behavior of people is often a reflection of a story we don’t know. Parents that have trouble showing love and affection to their children could have been raised by parents that modeled the same behavior. Constant turmoil in a marriage could be a result of not dealing with a painful past. Loving – being patient and kind – is not easy to follow when we haven’t had it modeled for us in our families.

Jesus modeled God’s love for us.

Jesus lived out that love described in 1 Corinthians 13. Where we fail, our hope is the promise that our sins and shortcomings have been wiped clean. We can live out Jesus’ promise in our lives because of what He did for us. We are loved, cherished, forgiven, and transformed because of Jesus! How can you show the same love God has shown to you to someone else today?