Unconditional love gets all the love. We’re deeply impressed and impacted whenever we see someone give while asking nothing in return, and rightly so. It’s awe-inspiring to watch someone care for another human being with absolutely no strings attached.
But it’s important to remember that unconditional love isn’t the only kind. Just because there are strings attached doesn’t mean it’s not genuine love.
Conditional love is just as loving as the unconditional kind, just in a different way.
Think about it. There were some things that your parent or caregiver gave you just because you were there and you were theirs. Those gifts had nothing to do with your report card or your chores being done or how you treated your siblings. Of course, some of us endured abusive situations at the hands of warped and broken adults. But, generally speaking, a caregiver in their right mind and spirit just gave certain things automatically.
No matter what, you ate every day. Regardless of your grades, you still had a roof over your head and a place to lay it down at night. They made sure you had medicine when you were sick even if you had called your brother some unsavory names. When it came to the basics and the necessities required for life and health, their love for you gave those things with no conditions.
However, there were times when you got some “IF, THEN” blessings.
If you eat all your vegetables, then you can have some cake.
If you clean your room and finish your chores, then you can play video games.
If you get straight A’s, then we’ll take you to Disney World.
Those blessing came with conditions, but they were no less motivated by love than the unconditional ones. The only difference was the intent of the gift.
See, the unconditional love gift was meant to provide for you, but the conditional love gift was meant to prepare you!
We give our children blessings WITHOUT strings because we want them to have good lives right now. We want them to have the nutrition they need to function well and keep growing. We want them to feel safe and protected. We want them to have the stability of health and wellness in the present.
But we give our children blessings WITH strings because we want them to have good lives later on. We attach conditions to certain things because we want them to know how the real world operates and to know the value of hard work. We want them to be ready to live productive adult lives when they grow up, including holding good jobs, maintaining healthy relationships, and understanding the value of the things they obtain. And we know that NONE of that will happen later if we give them everything without strings now.
The free meal teaches one kind of lesson, but the dessert you have to earn teaches another kind, one that’s just as valuable, if not more.
Our heavenly Father loves us the same way.
When He says, “If you forgive, then you will be forgiven”…
When He says, “If you ask in faith, then you will receive”…
When He says, “If you give generously, then it will be given to you”…
…He’s giving us conditional love gifts in order to form us into the spiritually mature people He wants us to be. These are just as great an expression of His divine love nature as the grace He freely gives. He’s providing for you today, but He’s also preparing you for tomorrow.
He knows that tomorrow you’re going to need faith to weather the storm He sees bearing down on you. He knows that tomorrow you’re going to be tested by your enemies, and He doesn’t want you to fail. He knows that tomorrow you’re going to need wisdom and perspective for the greater calling that’s being placed upon you.
That’s why there are a few strings attached today. And even though it may not feel like it, it’s nothing but love that ties them on.
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Be blessed and be a blessing!