March 1st, 2023 – Early Wednesday Evening
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” ~1 John 4:7-8
The command is simple; the reality is profound. The command, given to believers, is to love one another; love is to be the undergirding characteristic of a child of God. [By way of clarification, the words that are translated “love” here are “agape” and “agapeo”; love, in this sense, is a preference, a wishing well to, benevolence, affection, good-will, love, etc.] We are to love God first and foremost, but we are to love others as we love ourselves too. This harkens us back to Mark 12 and Jesus’ discussion with the scribe about the greatest commandments; it also brings us face-to-face with 1 Corinthians 16:14 – everything we do is to be done in love; and, one more time, it reminds us of 1 Peter 1:22 where we are commanded to love each other fervently with a pure heart (or from a pure heart). Love defines a believer and it differentiates a believer from a non-believer.
That is the command, but what about the reality? The reality is that love is to be the undergirding characteristic of a child of God because love is the undergirding characteristic of God Himself. As John says above, we are to love each other because love comes from God; the one who does not love does not know God because God is love. It isn’t that God loves like we do – some of the time, when we feel like it, when we are loved back, with imperfect and incomplete love, externally and without pure motives, etc., etc., etc. – instead, true love originated from God and He embodies it perfectly. God loves deeply, immensely, constantly, eternally, completely, with flawless motive and unadulterated zeal. Love comes from God and God is love.
Pause. God loves us perfectly, all the time and in every way; nothing He does, says, or thinks about us is in any way short of all-surpassing love. Have you ever stopped to reflect on that and to allow that truth to penetrate into the farthest reaches of your heart? Through thick and thin, in the very face of our greatest failures and our sin, and everywhere else, God loves us and acts with love towards us. WOW!!! We do not expect anyone to love us in that way and we certainly do not love that way – at least not most of the time. This is why I say the reality is profound; God is love and His love is overwhelming.
My beloved friends, let us love one another and emulate the love of our Father. We cannot do this without knowing His love and submitting to His Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds; yet, as we grow in our understanding and intimate knowledge of His love, He will perfect that which is lacking in us.
Thank You, Father, for Your perfect love! Thank You for loving us even when we were unlovable and for opening up Your love to us in Christ Jesus! Help us to look at You and know Your love more completely so that we can be equipped to love You and others more completely.