1 John 4:7-12
Supposedly we’re living in the information age. Everyone has information about other people and things, at same time trying to keep others from getting too much information about them. Information is commodity – bought and sold and traded between people and businesses. One with most information / knowledge wins, big if you’re playing Jeopardy. There’s a danger that comes with great knowledge: “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”. 1 Cor. 8:1 Perhaps John had that in mind as he wrote this part of epistle.
John just covered the bit about knowledge – knowing the truth, those who are of the truth, discerning truth from error. Now before you get all puffed up, remember the main thing isn’t knowledge, it’s love. Jesus said they’d know we were his disciples, not because of our knowledge, but by our love.
love – 13x; one another – 3x; get the idea love is important. God’s love and mindset that goes along with it unlike human love in an important respect. Especially in close human relationships, when we love someone, we expect they will love us in return; tend to get testy, resentful if we love someone and they take that love and give it away… to someone else. God’s love in-fills us, flows out in our love for one another. Yes, we return it to him, but not all of it. And that’s what God expects us to do.
A. The source of love v. 7-8
yes, love comes from God; but,… how? Is it – something he makes and then gives like a present? something he does and expects us to copy?
WSC Question 4
What is God?
God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
the being of God – not “God is loving” but “God is love”; love flows out of his goodness, an essential characteristic of his being
goodness, steadfast love, faithful love, loyal love, lovingkindness – over 200 times in the OT
Exodus 34:6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness [checed] and truth”
See also Psalm 136 – 26 verses with the antiphonal response “His steadfast love endures forever.”
God not only is love, he has loved eternally
the Father has always loved his Son with a father’s love
the Son has always loved his Father with a son’s love
God’s inter-trinitarian love is infinite, without limit – love expressed by mankind is less than molecule in ocean of God’s love as source / origin
if Jesus’ prayer was answered,…
love Father has for Son (eternal, infinite, unchanging) somehow beyond ability to explain
is formed in us: John 17:26 I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them.
is brought to completion in us (12) more on that later
to know God is to be the object of his love
not know about, but know intimately
level of knowledge husband and wife / parent and child have of each other
only way you get to that level is in context of loving relationship
where you can finish one another’s sentences
B. The nature of love v. 9-10
intentional, not merely emotional
God loved, then acted with an ultimate goal in view
love includes great emotion, much feeling – but includes so much more
true love involves both mind and heart – working together purposefully
repeated idea in Bible: God showed his love – in this way – for this reason
God’s love always has the good of recipient in view
his love results in their redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, receiving life
God’s love in action toward us always makes us better, more holy, more pleasing to him
God sent his son, intending his son to be the sacrifice
he justly could have required each person to pay their own debt
instead he decreed from eternity past how he would deal with sin
didn’t relax the standard, didn’t write debt off / take a loss
kept standard of perfection, paid the debt in full himself
His example – sacrificing himself on behalf of those who had no claim to his love or favor
God doesn’t owe salvation to anyone, much less the other favors he gives to all mankind
loved those who will never have ability to return his love in equal measure
our store of personal resources will always be finite / limited
as God’s creatures we will always be dependent on him, yes, even in heaven
no preconditions but with expectations, that the recipient will be incited to love others
The world says, “If you love me, you will do this for me.” God loved us intending that we would demonstrate our love for him by our actions toward others.
C. The effect of love v. 11
God’s love for us puts us in debt – we have a moral obligation to follow his example, loving as he loved
love for God 1 John 5:3
“This is love for God, that we keep his commandments.”
love for spouse Ephesians 5:25-28
“Husbands, love your wives, …to make her holy“
“encourage the young women to love their husbands and children”
“if anyone does not provide for his own, especially those of his household, he has denied the faith”
love for brother and sister 1 John 3:16-17
“[W]e also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart (shuts off his compassion, HSCB) from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
D. The growth of love v.12
we can’t see God, but… (12a)
“classic” argument against existence of God
we can see evidence of his presence (12b)
in the world – our love to one another
in us – the source of love to one another
and of his work (12c)
God doesn’t give us a kit, expect us to finish
he works to complete what he has begun in us – see Phil. 1:6
E. Purpose of love
draw us close to the source
closer we are to him, more like him we become, more we will reflect his love to others
point others to the source
God loves us knowing the more we love him, more effectively we will point others to him
we point others to Christ by demonstrating Christ’s love in our actions
“26-year-old Rachel, who was working the window last Wednesday on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day when Adam Smith videotaped himself going through the drive-thru, ordering only free water and expressing his disgust. “Chick-fil-A is a hateful company,” he told Rachel on the video, which he originally posted on YouTube before removing it. “I don’t know how you sleep at night. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values.” Rachel remained polite throughout the exchange and wished Smith a nice day. “I’m Christian and God tells us to love thy neighbor,” she said, referring to how she kept her composure. Smith, who received backlash from the public after posting the video and was even fired from his position as a CEO, posted a second video in which he apologized: “Rachel, I am so very sorry for the way I spoke to you on Wednesday. You handled my frustrating rant with such dignity and composure. Every time I watch the video I am blown away by really the beauty in what you did, and your kindness, and your patience with me.”
We have all experienced the love of God – demonstrated in his mercy, his patience, his redeeming love graciously bestowed on us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). What are we going to do with it? Keep it for ourselves? Or will we imitate God’s example? The better we understand how much God loves us and demonstrated it to us, the more determined we should be to pass his love along to others.