God loves because He is love. Unselfish love describes the essence of His character and the relational joy of His existence. He asks us to love because He has designed us to enter into this joy.
Even after sin’s removal of love within us, we are still enabled to love as He asks, because He continues to love us. In fact, that continued love—loving the unlovely—is what the Bible means by His gold being tried in the fire (Revelation 3:18). In ourselves, especially because of the selfishness (fear, insecurity, self-focus) sin brought, we have no ability to love, except for the fact that He still loves us. If we love at all, it is “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)—it is “as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
God’s gold in the fire means loving sinners before they can respond, and even if they do not respond in love. Since sin, this is the essence of faithful love. Calvary revealed this love to us (1 John 3:16). This faithful love establishes and fulfills the law (Romans 3:31; 13:10) of our original design.
So when we respond to this love, by receiving it into our hearts and passing it on, we begin to experience the same “gold-in-the-fire” emotions. There is pain and joy.
Unrequited love broke the heart of the Son of God.
Reflect on the pain of no response, by measuring the enormity of His love.
“The consciousness that His compassion was unappreciated, His love unrequited, His mercy slighted, His salvation rejected, filled Him with sorrow that was inexpressible.” Near the end of His time here, He found “all around Him… reminders of His unrequited love. Even the disciples who were so dear to His heart, had, in the hour of His humiliation, reproached and forsaken Him” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, pp. 393, 830).
“Christ pleaded, He invited; but His love was unrequited by the people He came to save” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 4, p. 188).
“In the intense pain of unrequited love, he exclaimed, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee'” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, February 22, 1898).
“Unrequited love broke the heart of the Son of God” (Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 2, p. 395).
Where was “the joy that was set before Him” that enabled Him to endure this pain leading through the cross (Hebrews 12:2)? The joy was in the promise, the evidence, and the realization that some would respond. Likewise, we are empowered to love as He loves because of the same joy—His joy (John 15:9-11; Nehemiah 8:10).
Love because… there is no other joy.