For today I thought it would be appropriate to just receive a reminder of Biblical love- God’s love. Immediately I went to 1 John 4. I love this chapter and reading, studying, and meditating on it never grows old.
To keep from writing out a sermon, I’m going to focus on verses 7-11 even though I read the whole chapter:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, 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 propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NKJV)
We often emphasize the importance of unconditional love, but as I read through this today, I realized that John is promoting conditional love. He talks about unconditional love, yes, but he’s talking about God’s unconditional love.
Think about it. We are human and therefore we are technically incapable of expressing unconditional love. As Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one” (NKJV). If we are incapable of doing any good or living righteously or seeking after God, we are incapable of unconditional love!
So how should we then love? First of all we have to remember that perfect love only comes from God, so we can only reflect God’s love to those around us. Even then, we cannot fully love as much as God does- unconditionally. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” We must be born again as children of God before we can love others.
Secondly, “God is love.” Do we truly love fellow believers? We should constantly expose them to the things of God. God should often be the topic of our conversation, and the thing that binds friends together should be a focus on God because God is love. Any other “love” will not truly hold believers together or cause them to grow.
On the other hand, do we truly love unbelievers? We should constantly expose them to the gospel of God. How can we say we love others when true love never comes up in our interactions with them? “God is love,” and unbelievers are without that perfect love if we don’t show them God. Exhort, encourage, and evangelize others through love by making God a priority.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us…” I love this verse (sorry about the pun)! God is the perfect example of love, and Jesus Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection was the perfect showing of love! All believers are sons of God, but Jesus is the only begotten son of God, and he sacrificed His life for us. Wow! He “sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.” God did this for us, and without that gift of love we could never be capable of showing love.
Therefore, and thirdly, we must love conditionally. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” Once again, we cannot love on our own, and we didn’t, but God loved us! “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Love conditionally. Love because God loves us. I should love God because He loves me and I should love other because He loves me. I should not and cannot love others unconditionally despite how they might live. But I can and should love others conditionally despite how they might live because God unconditionally loves me and He unconditionally loves them.
And as a final reminder: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1, NKJV).
Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you God because you loved me. Thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to write out these devotional thoughts. They are straightforward, yet thought-provoking. Continue developing your talent for writing and for teaching. I’m so glad you got a blog!