Consider the story of the prophet Hosea. His wife, Gomer, goes out on him in adulterous affairs, keeps going out on him, and eventually becomes a prostitute. Years later, Hosea finds Gomer as she is brought to the slave auction. She is old and wrinkled, disfigured by the effects of her sin, but Hosea says, “That’s Gomer! I’m going to buy her back and take care of her because I love her.”
God was teaching the fallen nation of Israel the beautiful lesson of how much He loved them. It’s called virtue love. Virtue love is unconditional. All we, like sheep, were gone astray, and every one of us had turned to his own way, yet the Father laid upon Jesus Christ the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53). That’s virtue love. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Was there any value in us as the objects of His love? Like Gomer, we had nothing in ourselves that merited His favor. Still, God loved us and gave Himself for us.