Our culture likes to talk about love. Just open up to Netflix and likely the first thing that pops up in their “Recommended” section is their latest original Romantic Comedy. But it is not just romantic love that people are interested in (see our summer series here). Love impacts our daily choices. It determines our priorities. It shapes the way we make decisions. Without love, many things seem pointless.
Love, is mentioned over 300 times throughout Scripture – not just the well known stuff either like 1 Corinthians 13 or Song of Solomon – plain ‘ol love loving one another.
1 John 4:7-21 is one of my favorite passages in Scripture about love, mostly because of the model it gives for loving others — because love comes from God. Let’s dive right in!
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
I have to open with a disclaimer — just because you are loving person, does not mean that you are a child of God. You receive the right to be called a child of God once you have put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This does not mean that non-believers cannot be loving people — they can, which is a result of common grace. What these two verses are saying, is that you cannot claim to be a child of God and not be a loving person. Overflowing with love is evidence of being filled with the Spirit.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
Our love for God is essentially futile in comparison to his great love for us. There is no greater sacrifice of love than God sending his only son, Jesus, into the world for the salvation of many. As verse 10 states, this is real love. If the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is real love, how much more should we strive to love God and others.
12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.
When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is proof that we are now hidden with Christ, even though we cannot see Him.
14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
There is great security that comes from knowing how much God loves us. Knowing that there is a Savior and a Creator who loves us more than we can imagine gives us the freedom to trust his and his plans for our lives. It makes a way for us to love others in spite of rejection or wrongdoing.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
God’s perfect love for us drives out all fear. That is certainly easier said than it is to believe it. As I sit here writing, I know that God’s love is perfect and that my future is secure in his hands, but if I am being honest, it can be hard to fully comprehend. However, because God is love and he lives in me, I can face everyday with confidence.
19 We love each other because he loved us first. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
Hate has no place in God’s Kingdom. If we are full of love, then we cannot be filled with even an iota of hate. We can love other people, because God first loved us, not because we find it somewhere in ourselves to do so. We are the most undeserving, and yet because of God’s immeasurable grace, he calls us loved.