As we think of Valentines Day, we think of a time of love, of sweethearts, and of marriage. Someone told me that their wedding anniversary is Valentines Day. I wonder how many choose that day. I would imagine a lot do.
We all know that young mans feeling of romantic love. But this Valentines Day, I want to examine another kind of love the love from God that he shows us, and the love of God that he gives us.
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.
John calls his readers beloved. They were beloved by John and beloved by God. Do you realize that you are one of Gods beloved? John instructs all of Gods beloved to love one another. The reason he gives is simple love is of God, and if we are born of God and know God, we will want to love one another.
Lange points out, "Now since love and life are and spring from God, a man that is born of God proves that he is born of God by loving; for he must have part of that which is in God and comes from Him."
Do you have part of this love in your life? Are you the kind of person who is always ready to reach out to others in love? This verse tells us the kind of people that reach out in love. They are born of God and they know God. It seems that God thinks its important that we love others. I ran across a quote that maybe we all can identify with, "It is no chore for me to love the whole world. My only real problem is my neighbor next door."
He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
Do you find it difficult to love others? This verse teaches us that those who do not love others, do not know God! John will give us the reason for this in the next verses, but before we look at them, I think its a good idea to examine the attitude of our heart. If there is hate, and anger, and bitterness inside of us, its going to be difficult to show Gods love. God wants us to replace hate with love, anger with forgiveness, and bitterness with caring. Allow God to minister love to your heart.
Wiersbe wrote, "Love is a valid test of our fellowship and our sonship because God is love. Love is part of the very being and nature of God. If we are united to God through faith in Christ, we share His nature. And since His nature is love, love is the test of the reality of our spiritual life."
If you find yourself lacking in love and compassion for others, spend time alone with God. Allow the Holy Spirit to change your mind and your attitude. Allow God to heal you of that hate and that anger and that bitterness. Let it go, and allow God to fill your spirit with peace and love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.
John begins his explanation of why we should love others. First, we need to realize that Gods love was made known to us when he sent Jesus into the world. It was because of the ministry of Christ that we can live a victorious life. We dont have to walk around crippled by our burdens, loaded down with our worries, or enslaved by sin. Christ came to set us free, and we have the privilege of living through him.
Here was the demonstration of Gods love that God loved us enough to send Christ to make amends for our sins. Christ was the lamb sacrifice that once and for all took away those things that separated us from God. When he went on the cross, our sins were nailed there with him.
Wiersbe comments, "We should remember our Lords death in a spiritual way, not merely sentimentally. Someone has defined sentiment as feeling without responsibility. It is easy to experience solemn emotions at a church service and yet go out to live the same defeated life. True spiritual experience involves the whole man. The mind must understand spiritual truth; the heart must love and appreciate it; and the will must act on it. The deeper we go into the meaning of the Cross, the greater will be our love for Christ and the greater our active concern for one another."
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
And so now John comes to his point. If God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. Who are we to be angry or upset with anyone else? Are we so perfect or so without sin ourselves? No. We require the same amount of mercy and forgiveness that God wants us to be willing to give to others. So this is the reason we need to show love because God shows his love to us. Heres a little poem thats been making its rounds among some Christians I know:
What larger circle do you need to draw in order to reach out to others? Let us be willing to reach all with Christs love!
Lange tells us, "Brotherly love is and remains the measure of our life from God, from whom comes all love; he that abides in God, cannot be without love, and he that is without love cannot be in God, nor can God abide in him."
No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
Do you want to have the assurance that God abides in you? John points out that no one has ever seen God, but we can know that he abides in us and that we abide in him because he has given us his Spirit. Every time we feel Gods spirit working in us, we have the assurance that God abides in us. Every time we hear that still, small voice speaking to us, we know that it is God within us. Every time we sense a divine hand guiding and directing us, we can take comfort that God is living in us.
As we allow God to dwell with us, verse 12 tells us that his love is perfected in us. The more we yield to God, the more we find his love being manifested in our own lives. Allow Gods spirit to direct you in every area of your life. You too will find love being perfected in your life and have the assurance of Gods presence with you every moment of every day.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
John gives us another assurance how we can know we are saved. God the father sent Jesus the son as the Savior of the world. So whenever we confess that Jesus is the son of God, we know that this confession is a result of God abiding in us and we abiding in God. This is why all false teachings try to diminish the deity of Christ. They try to bring Christ down to less than equal with the father or less than what he claimed to be. Or they will attempt to elevate man to a Christ-like level. They will teach that people can be like Christ, like little messiahs or little gods. Whenever a doctrine or teaching tries to make Jesus a little lower than the son of God, we know from this verse that God does not abide in those that teach these things. Peters confession in Matthew 16:16 still needs to be the confession of every Christian, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Do you realize the wonderful love that God has for you? John tells us that God is love. He loves us more than we can imagine. His mercy and forgiveness is freely extended to us. His help and strength is available to us. He offers us healing and peace. He has promised to guide and direct us and to never leave us. We sometimes need to realize how much we are loved. The one who created the heavens and the earth has time to reach down his hand of love and compassion to us. Even though you may feel abandoned and alone, know this God loves you with an everlasting love.
As Wiersbe remarks, " God is love is not simply a doctrine in the Bible; it is an eternal fact clearly demonstrated at Calvary. God has said something to us, and God has done something for us. But all this is preparation for the third great fact: God does something in us! We are not merely students reading a book, or spectators watching a deeply moving event. We are participants in the great drama of Gods love!"
In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.
When we realize how much we are loved by God, something remarkable happens to our mental outlook. We are no longer afraid. Fear is cast out by Gods love. John tells us that if we still have fears, then we are not perfected in love. Allow God to minister his love to you. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you the comfort and assurance you need. When we realize that we are completely safe, protected in Gods hands, then we will no longer have cause to fear. There may still come times of anguish or worry, but as they come, let us remind ourselves that God loves us with a perfect love. And Gods perfect love casts out all fears. So next time you feel frightened, remember Gods love, and instead of being afraid, rejoice that God loves you.
We love, because he first loved us.
If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.
Now John brings us to the heart of the matter. The reason we love others is because God first loved us. It is difficult for us to love others when we are unsure of Gods love for us. This is why it is necessary for us to realize the great love given to us when God sent his son to die for us. We need to understand Gods mercy and forgiveness for us. If we are still struggling with doubts about whether God is with us or cares for us or has saved us, how can we ever confidently reach out to others in love? We cant. We need to realize that we can love, because we are loved.
This is why John says that if anyone says they love God but hate their brother, they are a liar. John argues: if we cannot love someone whom we have seen, how can we say that we love God whom we have never seen? His point is that if we truly love God, we will have the divine love in our heart which will cause us to see others the way God sees them. If we hate or despise others, we need to question how much we really love God.
Verse 21 repeats the commandment that Christ gave to his disciples. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus said that one of the two great commandments was, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." And in John 13:34 Jesus gave a new commandment, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." So if we say we love Christ and yet do not obey him, how much do we really love him? Let us be willing to set aside our anger, our bitterness, and our prejudices and learn to love others. Let us allow God to fill our hearts so full of love that it will spill out and overflow into the lives of others. May we be willing to share Christs love as freely as we have received it.
This study on 1 John 4:7-21 © 1999 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version © 1971, A. J. Holman Company
Langes Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, The First Epistle General of John, pg. 140 (1867) Zondervan Publishing House
Love the Whole World saying from The Defender: quoted in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations pg. 759 © 1979, Signs of the Times
Wiersbe: Be Real, electronic version © 1989, Victor Books
Wiersbe: Be Real, electronic version © 1989, Victor Books
Langes Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, The First Epistle General of John, pg. 147 (1867) Zondervan Publishing House
Wiersbe: Be Real, electronic version © 1989, Victor Books