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1 John 4





In verse 8, we find one of the most familiar statements in the Bible.  It is actually repeated in verse 16.  That statement is “God is love”.

Let’s think for a moment about what this doesn’t mean.  For example it doesn’t mean love is God.  Love does not define God.  God defines love.  God is the One and the only One who can rightfully define what real love really is.  

Verse 9 goes one to help us understand God’s love.  One way we can know this love is by understanding that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Verse 10 explains that when God sent His only Son into the world, He sent Him to be the propitiation for our sins.  Remember the concept of propitiation appeared in chapter 2 and refers to the satisfying of God’s holy law.  

Here’s something for you to think about.  We are not saved by loving Jesus.  We are saved by believing in Jesus (John 3:16).  Our love of Christ grows out of our being saved by Christ.  In fact, the more we think about what Jesus actually did so that we could be saved, the more our love for Him should grow exponentially.  The more we think about what Jesus is currently doing for us and has promised to do for us, the more our love for Him should continue to grow.

But the only way we can love Jesus, or really love anyone else for that matter, is we have to have first experienced God’s love for us.  Verse 19 says we love because He first loved us.  

I suspect someone might want to argue this with me.  He or she might say that there are lots of people who are not Christ followers who love their spouses, their children, their parents, even their friends.  I would totally agree with that.  But apart from the love of God, our love for others is severely limited.  Every human has the capacity to love others to some degree.  But that love is a very different kind of love than the love of God.  And that love is always very limited in its scope.

God’s love, on the other hand, is unique.  (We are talking about the agape kind of love here.)  God’s love is limitless.  It is a sacrificial, selfless love that always acts on behalf of others.  It is the motivation to do for others what is desperately needed but may be impossible without outside “interference”.  It is a willingness to put what you want aside and do what others need.  

And yet it is this very love that we as Christ followers are not only to possess but also are to demonstrate in our relationships with others.  As you read through this fourth chapter, you will even see where this God love active in us is evidence that we truly belong to God.  It is evidence that we have actually been saved from our sins.

It is a staggering thing to think that God knew us and loved us before we were ever born.  It is a staggering thing to think that God loved us the way we were when we were lost.  It is a staggering thing to think that God loved us so much that He didn’t want us to stay the way we were when we were lost.  It is a staggering thing to think that God’s love is powerful that when it lives in us, we cannot help loving others.