Which do we really need—to give love or to receive it? We resist the question because we want to say both.
Yet Scripture seems to favor the imbalance. Not that we aspire to have our friend or spouse love us less, but that “in humility [we] consider others better than [our]selves” (Phil. 3:4). When the kingdom of God is ruling our hearts, we aspire more to serve than to be served, honor more than to be honored, and love more than be loved. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about being loved; it simply means that we always want to outdo others in love.
Do we run the risk of a lopsided relationship? Absolutely. That is the relationship we have with God—he always loves first and most. . . . Throughout Scripture God is the one who loves more than he is loved. He always makes the first move. He advertises his extravagant affection for us even when we are indifferent or opposed to him.
When Jesus Christ, God incarnate, walked the earth, the pattern continued. Through his life Jesus was rejected by his people and misunderstood by his disciples. At the most difficult point of his life, he was betrayed, denied, and abandoned. But through it all his love was unwavering. In this, he established the pattern for true humanness. This is the way we were intended to be.
This is life in the kingdom. It wants love, but it wants even more to love others deeply. Its treasure is to grow in the fruits of the Spirit, foremost of which is to love others.