When my son was in kindergarten, he was smitten with a classmate named Kristen. She was the cute, spunky, blond-headed, blue-eyed daughter of a local pastor. One day he mustered his courage during recess and revealed to her that he liked her. She looked at him with her ice-blue eyes, kicked him in the shins, and said “As if!” as she walked away. 

For the first time in his life, Nate experienced the pain of unrequited love. He liked her a lot more than she liked him. In this particular case, it hurt both physically and emotionally!

Unrequited love is love that’s unreturned. It’s love that isn’t given back in measure. In fact, it’s a lack of love toward someone who has bestowed love. 

Isaiah the prophet described God’s love for Judah and Jerusalem. 

Let me sing now for my well-beloved, a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones. 

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.

Isaiah 5.1-6

The farmer did everything for his vineyard that he could have done, but it still didn’t produce fruit. The problem wasn’t a bad farmer, it was a bad plant. Likewise, God did everything for his people that he could. He loved them enough to give them and do for them the very best he could. Yet they failed to return his love. 

If someone treats you nicely and you’re ungrateful, it’s a social problem: rudeness. If God treats you with love and favor, and you’re ungrateful, it’s a spiritual problem: inexcusable ingratitude. 

Divine love isn’t dependent upon human response. God loves us even when we don’t love him in return. However, unrequited love isn’t without consequence. Sometimes God demonstrates his love in the punishment he gives. A father must sometimes punish a rebellious child. So too with God. 

Loving God is our highest calling. Rejecting God’s love is our greatest failure. Choose wisely.