There is power in knowing that you are God’s beloved.
The word ‘beloved’ is an adjective that means ‘greatly loved or dear to the heart’. When used as a noun, it refers to a person who is dearly loved.
It always speaks of the one who is being loved, never of the one doing the loving.
But one of the first impressions we get of any religion or faith-based system is – loving and serving God (or the deity that is being worshipped). Even new-age belief systems that do not involve God or any deity tread along the lines of being at peace with people and the world, loving others and doing good.
Christianity starts out differently. We are told that God loves us and He loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, that we might be saved from hell into heaven.
But unfortunately, in many places Christians don’t get reminded much of this great love of God for them beyond the Alpha course or the new converts programme.
God’s love and Jesus’s sacrifice for them at the cross are shelved under “basics of Christian faith”. Instead, Christians are taught and encouraged to move on to greater and more noble pursuits, such as learning how to “love God with all their heart, all their soul, all their mind, and all their strength”, discipleship and “loving God and others” as the Bible teaches.
Out of curiosity, I did a word count study of the word “beloved” in the New King James Bible. It occurs 124 times in 113 verses – 59 times in the Old Testament, and 65 times in the New Testament.
- 56 times are in reference to Jesus as the Beloved of God or God’s beloved Son (whether in type in the Old Testament or in direct reference in the New);
- 44 times are in reference to those who are beloved of the Lord (including Israel and the church, and believers in general); and
- 24 times are in reference to named individuals.
Never once was there a reference to God Himself as “beloved”.
We can try to love God with our best efforts and intentions, out of a truly sincere heart. It won’t change a thing. God will never – and can never – be put in the position of “beloved”. Because: God Himself is love. He will always be the one doing the loving – not us.
Even the love and praise we pour out onto Him in worship, and the unselfish love with which we love others – our enemies, those we meet and work with, our friends, and even our family, children, and spouse? That came from Him.
The point is, there is no use trying to love God and love others without our first maintaining a sense of being personally God’s beloved.
So what is the big deal about knowing that you are God’s beloved? Because, to be honest, it seems a little basic, self-centred, and even a touch hedonistic.
And that’s what religion and our own sense of self-righteousness will tell us. But let’s have a look at what the Bible shows us about the power of knowing that we are God’s beloved.
When Jesus rose up from the waters of the River Jordan after being baptised by John the Baptist, immediately the heavens opened and God the Father spoke: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. We read this in 3 different gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Following this event, Jesus then went into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan for 40 days. In each of the 3 temptations recorded for us in the Bible, the devil opened up by taunting Jesus like so: “If You are the Son of God…”. Notice that the devil left out one word: “beloved”, which God had just used to address His Son.
The devil left that word out deliberately. He knew his temptation would never work if he reminded Jesus that He was the “beloved” Son of God. And Jesus, being perfectly sinless and impeccable, yet also full of the awareness of His Father’s love for Him as God had just pronounced upon Him, was not moved by any of the devil’s devices.*
The devil’s temptations will much less likely succeed against us when we are fully conscious that we are God’s beloved.
Conversely, it is when we fail to be conscious of this truth – that we are dearly and greatly loved by God, at all times – that we tend to fall prey to temptation. It could be something as subtle as a feeling of loneliness or discouragement, a flare of temper, or doing or saying things that we normally wouldn’t want to.
In the well-known story of David and Goliath, David’s name in Hebrew means “beloved”. Goliath’s name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “exile”, or “to uncover or reveal nakedness”. Just as the original deception of the serpent led Adam and Eve to forfeit the glory of God on them and find themselves exposed in their nakedness.
It took a shepherd boy named “beloved”, who was full of the consciousness that he was God’s beloved, to bring a 10-12 feet tall giant tumbling down dead. That is what will happen to our giants when we are full of the consciousness that we are God’s beloved!
In that one slaying of the giant, David restored the glory due to God, and saved his nation Israel. He later became the most renowned king over Israel, and led his people to worship the Lord in his reign. David is also known for being the beloved psalmist who penned most of the psalms – songs of worship and praise, prayers, even prophecies of Jesus the Messiah. Pretty good works coming out from someone who kept being conscious that he was the Lord’s beloved.
Throughout the epistles, the apostles Paul, Peter, James, and John, along with Jude, never ceased to remind the believers they were writing to that they were “beloved”, even as they instructed them on living worthy of their high calling. Because they knew that the sense of being “beloved” will produce good works and holy lives.
Today, know that you are God’s beloved.
Once you have accepted the gift of His Son, you can rest easy in enjoying His love. Because you are now perfectly accepted in the Beloved, Jesus.
He loves you when you do right, and He loves you even when you fail. He loves you the same, on your best days and on your lousiest days. His love for you is unwavering, unchanging, and everlasting.
It never changes, because it is not pegged to your performance. It is tied to the unchanging perfection of His Son who performed and did everything for you.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.
*The baptism and temptation of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 3:13-4:11 (also in Mark 1 and Luke 3-4)