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Love is… 1 John 4:19-5:1


Love Is…

Text: 1 John 4:19-5:5 
John has been spending much time and ink on the importance of love. God’s love for us, and our love for God, and the resulting love that we have for each other. He says:-

1. Love is a Reaction. We love him, because he first loved us.
Let’s keep this is proper perspective. We are not naturally loving people. We prefer to manipulate people rather than to love them. We like putting ourselves first, not others. We reflect the values of this world. We certainly don’t have any natural love or affection for the Creator. We take all his blessing and bounty and common goodness and grace and we attribute it to ourselves and we hold on to it for ourselves. Unqualified human love is a rare commodity indeed. We learn that love and we experience that love in God, and his love for us, which always precedes our love for him or for humanity. Our love is a relation to his love.

2. Love is a Reversal.If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
This statement seems to be a total reversal of the thinking of the modern visible church. You see most of us nowadays would imagine that it would be much easier to love God than to love our brothers and sisters in The Lord. Let’s think about that:-
God is loveable! Of course he is!

  • For the nominal ‘believer’... The person who just ‘believes in God’ and has some vague religious notion, God is always viewed as a loveable, kindly old grandfather figure, who would never do anything to harm anyone, and at the end of our lives, even though we’ve ignored his claims and sinned against him, he’s going to overlook our little indiscretions, and let us into Heaven, where we’ll all be reunited, and be looking down on the earthlings below. What’s not to love about a god like that?
  • For the evangelical… Again God is love and is loveable. It’s easy to love a God who they think, exists for our benefit, who ‘needs us’ who even sacrificed his son for us, even though they are sure that really saved them was their decision to follow him rather than his atoning work. It’s much easier to love such a God than some of the people we live with!

People are less loveable! Let’s think about some of the people we know. They are…

  1. Awkward. There are some people and they simply will not cooperate with us, just because they enjoy being contrary. 
  2. Arrogant. They are full of pride. Some people just are so full of their own self importance, that they become unbearable. Rude and unlovable. 
  3. Hard hearted. We can be so callous and careless sometimes. 
  4. Hypocritical. We are all to some extent hypocrites. There are none of us who haven’t told a lie or misled someone, none of us who at some time haven’t been guilty of just play-acting. But there are some people whose hypocrisy goes on unchecked and unconfessed and unforgiven, and they are so hard to love!
  5. Demanding. People make demands on our time and our energy.  

Now who on earth would find it easy to love human beings, – people? It’s much easier to love God!
That, I would contend is the common perception and John stands it on its head. He says, if you can’t love your brother, who you can see, how can you love God, who you can’t see? In fact, if you say you love God, and hate your brother (note the contrasts again) then you are a liar! There’s nothing of us in this. The reason that we are able to love the unlovable people around us is solely because of the gospel, because when we look at our neighbours and friends with all their shortcomings, we remember that…

  • Christ loved us when we were unlovable. Paul was adamant about this. He said, I am the chief of sinners.
  • We have done all those things and worse on God, and he still loved us!
  • Remembering our true nature, and the greatness of our salvation and the forgiveness of Christ, we realise that we cannot look at our neighbours in the same light again. We can’t say we love God, if we don’t love others.

3. Love is a Responsibility. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Having first experienced God’s love for us, and then discovered that we can’t claim to love God and not to love others, we are now told by John that this aspect of love is in fact a commandment. He is perhaps directly remembering the words of Jesus, spoken at the first Communion Service. John 13:34 As Christians, we are under a law of LOVE. A new commandment, a commandment that we reflect his love to others.

4. Love is a Reinforcement. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
Love always flows from, and is related to biblical doctrine and belief. How often do you hear Christian people portray love as the opposite of truth. They talk about confessional, doctrinal churches as ‘loveless’. John links love and truth in this verse. Love is closely related to truth, and truthfulness is part of God’s essential character. Romans 15:8, Look at the summary of doctrines that John links to love in this one verse:-

Faith (Belief).

The Person of Christ.

The New Birth.

The Family of God.

So John draws his list of conclusions about love. We are to love each other, because we have been loved by God, and because it would be a denial of our relationship to Christ if we didn’t, and because Jesus has specifically commanded that we love one another and because real love and real doctrine are not mutually exclusive.

© Bob McEvoy

From → 1st John

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