The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jer. 31:3, NKJV)
It is all the more remarkable when one considers that no matter how “bad” our children become, not matter how heinous their crimes, the gap between their vileness and our own is infinitesimal when compared to the gap between us and God.
How mysterious God’s love is:
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, "In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." (Mal. 1:2-3, NKJV)
From what we read in Genesis, humanly speaking Esau was more “lovable” than Jacob. But Jacob was the beneficiary of God’s love.
Is God’s love different not only in its immutability but also in its very nature? It may very well be that His love is not the intense emotional feeling that we associate with love, but more along the lines of companionship. Not the overwhelming heart racing emotion that occurs at the beginning of a courtship, but the bond of fellowship and common purpose evident in mature and healthy marriage.
Likewise when God “hated” Esau it is not in the same visceral manner that we hate, and we rightly recoil at the very thought of attributing this ugly emotion to God. We hate people because of their works, which we perceive as "bad" in some way. Yet God’s hatred of Esau is not because Esau was “bad”, for in Romans it states clearly that it was a decision made before the twins were even born when Paul, referring to Esau and Jacob, writes:
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)(Rom. 9:11, NKJV)
Sproul points out that, at this point in writing Romans Paul had the golden opportunity to confirm Arminianism, just by writing something along the lines that “God saw from the foundations of time that, unlike Jacob, Esau would never come to faith and therefore He hated him." Instead Paul makes it clear that God’s love (and hate) has nothing to do with the actions of the object. So very unlike our love and hate.
God didn’t first love and then chose those He loved, or first hate and then pass over those he hated. He first chose, and then love and hate become synonymous with chosen and passed-over. On what basis does He make His choice? It’s a complete mystery.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph.1:3-6, NKJV)
For the good pleasure of His will. It is not a very satisfying explanation but it’s the only one we are given. We would rather there is something about us that caused God to love us. My wife is secure in my love for her, be still she often asks me why I love her, and I had better have a satisfactory reply! God only tells us He loves us because He wants to love us.
This actually gives me enormous comfort. If I had to worry about whether I am worthy of God’s love—well I wouldn’t sleep very well you can be sure of that.