We love because God first loved us 1 John 4:7-21

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 19 We love because he first loved us.

God’s love is unlimited – it holds nothing back

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
We thought before about 1 John 3:16.–
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us is the standard and supreme example of the kind of love we should show to other Christians. Not just love when it suits us, love when we can spare the time, but love which costs, love which pays the ultimate price!

God’s love is totally undeserved
We can never ever do anything to earn or deserve God’s love!

God’s forgiveness is Unilateral Forgiveness

The essence of Christian forgiveness is that God makes a way for us to be forgiven BEFORE we repent. “It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) As Jackie Pullinger puts it, “Jesus didn’t wait for me to make good before he died for me.”
The Father is out looking waiting for the prodigal to return BEFORE the prodigal comes to his senses and returns to his Father and confesses and repents. (Luke 15) The paralysed man in Mark 2:5 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 are forgiven BEFORE they repent.
Our repentance is then the channel by which we come to enjoy the benefits of forgiveness. But it is God’s gracious act of forgiving us which prompts our repentance, NOT our repentance which earns or even opens the door to God forgiving us. The initiative comes from God.
This is NOT to say that everybody is saved. Only those who receive God’s forgiveness by repentance enjoy the blessings of salvation. But God’s forgiveness is UNILATERAL – originating from within his merciful character and made possible through the death of Christ on the cross. God’s forgiveness is NOT BILATERAL – not forgiveness as a response to human acknowledgement of sin. Human acknowledgement is necessary in the process of us experiencing God’s forgiveness and enjoying a reconciled relationship, but not necessary for God to forgive us.
Most human forgiveness is Bilateral – a response to confession and repentance:
Acknowledgement by the guilty -> forgiveness by the injured -> reconciliation
On the other hand, God’s kind of forgiveness is Unilateral – all from God’s side:
God forgives -> this prompts sinners to confess and repent -> reconciliation
THIS is the mystery of God’s amazing grace!

God loves us!
So we love God in return

When we realise how much God loves us – we will love God!
We thought from the beginning of 1 John 3 about how great the love is that God has lavished upon us – so great that he has made us his children.
When they asked Jesus what are the greatest commandments, He replied,
Luke 10:27 He answered: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbour as yourself.'”


Loving God is NOT romantic love. Loving God has nothing to do with “being in love with God” 20th century charismatics are to blame for that wrong idea, as are certain popular songwriters. You could blame it on a misunderstanding of the interpretation of the Song of Solomon as a love poem between God and the church. But when the Bible says we are to love God, that concept does NOT include any notion of “being in love with God”
The proper pictures for our love of God are the love of a devoted child for a parent. Or the love the apostles showed for Jesus during His ministry. To put it in the negative, we should never address God in a way that a loving child would not address their parent. We should never address the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in a way that apostles like Peter, James and John would not have done!

We love God, and we also love each other

When we realise how much God loves us – we will love God! And we will love other Christians too.

1 JOHN 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. …. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (NIV)
if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen? (NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)

Loving our brothers and sisters in the church is easy in theory, and harder in practice!
To dwell above with saints we love, that will be grace and glory–
To live below with saints we know … that’s another story!
We need to show our love for our fellow Christians in practical ways. In hospitality. In just spending time together. And in forgiving one another.
C.S.Lewis – Everybody agrees forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have something to forgive.
George Herbert wrote, “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need to be forgiven.”
Jesus’s parable of the two debtors remind us that the more conscious we are of how much God has forgiven us, the more we will be able to forgive others who sin against us.
And we saw from 1 John 3:14 that it is our love for our fellow Christians which gives us assurance that we are actually saved.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
How can we be sure we are saved? Because we love our brothers. Not because of what we say we believe – but because we love other Christians! It’s not our beliefs which are the test – but how much love we show! This is embarrassing. This is challenging. This is the kind of verse we would like to ignore – and if it were just that one verse we might be able to ignore it. But hear what else John says

14 ¶ We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
John is very clear. If we are not loving your fellow Christians, we don’t have eternal life! And again we saw from chapter 3:-
3:10 Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

We love God, we love other Christians, and then we also love our neighbours

When we realise how much God loves us – we will love God! And we will love other Christians. And then we will love our neighbour as well!

This is the second of the greatest commandments. `Love your neighbour as yourself.'”
It should be so simple. God loves us. So we should love God. We love should each other. We should love our neighbours. Let’s be honest about this challenge to love each other as Christ has loved us? What about this standard of loving our neighbour as much as we love ourselves? These are the ideals God calls us to aim at, by his grace. But we have to admit that all of us have times when we fail to show the kind of love God calls us to show. That leads us to an important question.
Does love have limits?
God’s love for us does not have limits. But does our obligation to love other people have limits? Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that we are not allowed to retaliate – we must always turn the other cheek and walk the extra mile. We are obliged to keep on forgiving.
Matthew 1821 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
We must keep on forgiving. But I want to point out this evening that we may occasionally come to a point when we are allowed to step away from loving. There can be situations when loving other people with God’s love is simply beyond us. And in such an extreme situation, if we find ourselves completely unable to show God’s love, then

We are allowed to walk away.

A woman or equally a man might find themselves trapped in a loveless and abusive relationship. Because they are Christians they might think they are obliged to stay with that partner and obliged to keep on being rejected and hurt, emotionally and maybe even physically. It seems very clear to me that the Bible teaches that a person in that situation is not obliged to keep on suffering and being hurt. They are allowed to walk away.
I believe the same is true for people who are trapped in jobs which are destroying them, with bosses exploiting and mistreating them. You are allowed to walk away. Trust in God for what you are going to do next – but don’t keep on suffering. Walk away.
I have even said the same to Ministers where the church they are seeking to serve is treating them unacceptably. Making unreasonable demands on them. Failing to love them and support them. Gossiping about them. They are allowed to just walk away.
None of us are allowed to retaliate. We do have to keep on forgiving. But in the interests of self-preservation, Christians are allowed to walk away. The obligation to love DOES have limits.
Remember at the beginning of his ministry, the apostle Paul was fiercely opposed by the Jews.
Acts 923 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
So Paul escaped. Just think how different the history of the church would have looked if the apostle Paul had NOT walked away at that point. No second half of the book of Acts. None of Paul’s letters. There are times when it is alright to walk away! It is not the first resort. Or the second. But as a last resort, walking away and even running away is an acceptable option. Walking away can be the right thing to do. But one more thing from 1 John 4.

The reason God loves us is NOT because we love Him or anybody else

God loves us because God IS love. Whether we love Him back as much as we should – or not – God loves us just the same. Whether we love each other as much as God loves us – or not – God loves us just the same. Whether we love our neighbours as much as we should – or not – God loves us just the same. If our love runs out and we just can’t love any more and so we walk away – God loves us just the same! That is the amazing love of God! So we don’t love God because that will make God love us more. We don’t love other people because that will make God love us more. God is love. And we love because God first loved us.
I wonder if the same thing has ever happened to you as it did to us one year when we put up the Christmas tree and finally set all the decorations in place. Switch on the lights – and only the red bulbs are working. No yellow. No green. No blue! Christmas lights are wired in series. The electricity comes from the plug, into the wire, then to the first bulb and through its filament. Then back into the line, on to the next bulb, and so on through the entire chain of lights. As it flows into each of those lights and out of each of those lights, the entire circuit is completed, and the string of lights shine. But if there’s a single bulb that’s loose, or a filament that’s broken, then the electric current can’t flow through any of them!

In a sense, God has wired us Christians in the church to be like those Christmas lights. He has wired us to receive His love, and He has also wired us to pass it along to others. We have God’s love to give. If just one part of the circuit is broken, the whole can’t work properly.

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 19 We love because he first loved us.

You may also like...

Comments are closed.