Love is rarely a gift. Typically, when you love someone, it is because you get something in return. You love your spouse in part because of the support and affection he shows to you. You love your favorite teacher because of what she gives you by making learning enjoyable. You love your dog because he is a loyal companion. In such cases, love is not a gift. It is something that is merited…deserved. Now, if you loved a spouse who always treated you like dirt, loved a teacher who taught you nothing, loved a dog that daily bit you, then your love would be a gift. If you love someone who gives you nothing in return, who makes your existence more difficult, then your love is a gift. You are showing undeserved love, which Scripture calls grace.
Love is rarely a gift. However, with God, his love is always a gift. God the Father looks at humanity and he sees us doing the evil we should not do. Just as bad, he sees us failing to do the good that we ought to do. Do we make God’s existence easier? No. Instead, God the Son took on human flesh and suffered and died to make atonement for our sins. Yet, he did so gladly. Why? Love! Love that is undeserved. The gift of love!