Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.
1 John 4:7-21
An Extraordinary Thing!
Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon, “If I had heard that Christ pitied us, I could understand it. If I had heard that Christ had mercy upon us, I could comprehend it. But when it is written that He actually loves us, that is quite another and a much more extraordinary thing!”
The word “love” is so hard for us to comprehend. In a search for true love, we’ve stripped the meaning to describe our feelings about things we like or enjoy. We love the sunshine. We love food. We love our cars. But what happens when it rains? Or when we get food poisoning? Or when our car becomes undrivable? What happens when the things we love disappoint us? And if everything we love fails us, what does that say about God’s love for us? In this passage, we see true love defined, modeled, and commanded for us.
True Love Defined
When love comes from us, love fails. Hearts break and feelings change. But love that comes from God is pure and perfect. John says, “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence…” (v.16-17). When we love things that fade, we’re left with holes in our heart we can’t seem to fill. But when we fill our heart with love for the One who created us, we are complete.
True Love Modeled
“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (v.10). True love is sacrificing with the other person in mind. We played no part in God sending His Son to earth. We played no part in Jesus dying on a cross for our sins. And yet, He died for us anyway.
True Love Commanded
Matthew 22:37-39 says, “[Jesus] said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This seems like an easy command when you take into consideration what God has done for us. But Jesus takes it a step further than just loving God. He tells us to love others. When we love those around us—yes, even those we can’t stand—love is made complete in us.
When you’re searching for a love that won’t fail, when you are wondering how you can love someone who seems unlovable, remind yourself to turn to the Source of true love.
How does this definition of true love change your perspective? Find a way to love your neighbor today. Simple things go a long way. Give someone a compliment or buy someone a cup of coffee.