After Victoria and I had been dating for about nine months, a friend called me and said, "Joel, I just talked to Victoria. Don't tell her that I called, but she told me she thinks she loves you!" My friend was so excited, but I had a problem with two words—"she thinks." That could mean she loves me…or she doesn't. It could go either way. "She thinks" didn't give me any confidence at all. In fact, it made me think, "I need to do more and try to really impress her, or I might not be good enough." "She thinks" put me under more pressure. Eventually, Victoria went from "I think" to "I know," and that was over thirty-one years ago.
When you know that somebody loves you, you don't have to try to perform, to impress, to be good enough. You can relax and be yourself. But a lot of people live with an "I think He loves me" mentality when it comes to God because they base it on their performance. "I went to church. I resisted temptation. I did good. I think He loves me." The problem with this approach is that when we make mistakes and don't perform perfectly, we think God changes His mind about us. After all, people often love us conditionally. If you do right, perform right and treat them right, they will love you. If you let them down, they'll go find somebody else. But God is not like that. If you run away from God, instead of turning the other way, God will come running toward you. Quit trying to earn His love. There's nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. It's a gift. Just receive it by faith.
Sometimes we're trying to clean ourselves up, trying hard to be good enough, and then we'll believe that God really loves us, but God loves you right now. He loved you when you were doing wrong and were off course. The apostle Paul says that "nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39). God put His love on you. You are permanently loved. Nothing you've done has changed God's love for you.
God loves you because you are His child. He breathed His life into you. When you receive His love, you'll live with a confidence. When you go from "I think" to "I know," you'll quit trying to earn His love. You'll live securely, knowing that your heavenly Father loves you.