Foolish Love?

My love is often reckless. God’s love should never be considered as such!

Go to any dictionary you desire and look up the word reckless. What do you find?

Go to any thesaurus you want and look up the word reckless. What do you find?

Do a whole Bible search for the word reckless and what do you find?

On all three counts, the answer is the same. The word pretty much means foolish, “not well-planned.” In fact, if we look at all the instances of it in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, we will see the following:

  • Judges 9:4 (HCSB)
    So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith. Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men with this money, and they followed him.
  • Proverbs 21:5 (HCSB)
    The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.
  • Isaiah 32:4 (HCSB)
    The reckless mind will gain knowledge, and the stammering tongue will speak clearly and fluently.
  • Zephaniah 3:4 (HCSB)
    Her prophets are recklesstreacherous men. Her priests profane the sanctuary; they do violence to instruction.
  • Ephesians 5:18 (HCSB)
    And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads toreckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:
  • 2 Timothy 3:2-5 (HCSB)
    For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

So with that in mind, the following lyrics make very little sense.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
(Reckless Love; by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver, and Ran Jackson)

Is God’s love really reckless?

In the Scriptures quoted above, reckless refers to things worthless people do. It refers to lazy people’s actions. It refers to a type of person who needs knowledge. It refers to treacherous people. It refers to things people do when they are drunk. And it is a sin in a long list of items characteristic of false teachers–Christians are called to avoid these kinds of people.

Therefore, if God’s love is reckless, not only is it sinful, but it means God was acting like a drunk when He loved us. It means He is no better than treacherous people. It means He is in need of wisdom and knowledge.
(Even writing this paragraph makes me uncomfortable.)
It means He came up with the cross at the last second and threw it all together like an undergraduate writing a research paper the night before it’s due. And if God’s love is reckless, then He is in the same category as worthless people.

But is any of this the case?

Paul wrote my answer in Romans 6:2: “Me genoito!”
Or, if you prefer English: “May it NEVER be!”

But why?

  • God is worthy, not worthless.
    Revelation 4:11 (HCSB)
    Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.
  • God created wisdom, so how could he be in need of it?
    Proverbs 2:6 (HCSB)
    For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

But i digress. Allow Mirriam-Webster to define reckless.

1: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences
2: irresponsible

But is this really the case?

First, we need to remember how God’s love is defined. We read it in 1 John 3:16. “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers” (emphasis added).

Secondly, we need to determine whether or not this was an irresponsible decision; a decision that didn’t care about the consequences; a decision that didn’t exercise caution.

There are some theologians out there who would attempt to argue that it was a spur of the moment decision. However, these are the theologians who need to actually read their Bibles. Romans 8:28-32 is extremely clear about God’s love, and if we look at Genesis 3:15, we will see that it was the plan for at least 4-8,000 years prior to Christ’s coming to earth.

  • Romans 8:28-32 (HCSB)
    We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.  For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.  What then are we to say about these things?If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? (emphasis added).
  • Genesis 3:15 (HCSB)
    I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.He will strike your head,and you will strike his heel (emphasis added).

God knew what He was doing long before the cross happened. His love for us was no reckless, last minute decision. He had planned it out from “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). There was nothing reckless about it.

Deep Breath!

But with all that said, i do want to be fair. Or at least try my hardest.

I thought long and hard on this subject, and the best Scriptural proof for the song i can think of is Paul’s discussion of God’s wisdom and foolishness in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. It reads as follows:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.  For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.  Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?  For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.  For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.  Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom,  because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength (emphasis added).

This passage specifically talks about God’s foolishness, so maybe there is a sense in which He is reckless. I guess it is possible, but i think a more careful and context-attentive reading of the passage would see it differently.

In the very first verse quoted above (1 Corinthians 1:18), we are told what is foolish, and to whom it is foolish. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are [nonbelievers].” In this case, we are immediately shown what Paul is saying in this paragraph. It might look foolish to the world, but the world doesn’t understand wisdom. God wants to save people who don’t think themselves too good to be saved by something that makes no sense to the world. Therefore, when Paul speaks about “God’s foolishness,” he is speaking about God as the world (nonbelieving humanity) pictures His message. To the Christian God is incredibly wise.

To clarify even further, one commentator explains, “Paul does not use the word ‘foolishness’ (mōria) as in vv. 18, 21, 23, but says ‘the foolish thing’ (mōron), i.e. the cross” (Leon Morris, TNTC, 52.) In verse 25, therefore, a better translation is, “God’s foolish thing is wiser than human wisdom.” God is not foolish. We must never speak as though He might be.

This leads to the simple question: Is Paul praising God for His “foolishness” in this verse?

If he is, then we should praise God for acting foolishly as well. But, the simple fact of the matter is that this is not what Paul does. Paul says God is ultimately wise even though the world calls Him foolish.

By singing the song “Reckless Love” we are calling God foolish, and we sound like the unbelieving world, even though other biblical metaphors are present in the song. Change reckless, and i’ll get behind the song; leave reckless, and my conscience will not allow me to sing it.

I pray your conscience is pulled in a similar direction.

The bottom line is this: calling God reckless is blasphemy. When Jesus was accused of blasphemy, He was nailed to the cross. The law of God demands death to those who blaspheme God. Christ died to save blasphemers. If we have been saved from the sin of blasphemy, we must be careful in the songs we choose to worship God with. Let us not be guilty of blaspheming the God who graciously, powerfully, and wisely gave us life!

When God hears the words, “Reckless love of God,” come out of our mouths in a worship service, this is what He thinks: “Take away from Me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps” (Amos 5:23). We must be cautious and reverent in our worship. We must not misuse God’s name (Exodus 20:7).

Soli Deo Gloria
Pro Ecclesia

Postscript: if you know of a modern use of reckless that doesn’t carry the connotation of foolish, please comment below and share it so i can reconsider this post.

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