Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
1 John 4:7-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
As I read through this passage this morning, I don’t know that there is much that I can add. One of the things that sticks out is the word love. In this short section of scripture, love shows up 28 times. This theme of love is one that John has already written about several times in this short letter. John tells us that we must love each other, because love is from God. Love is one of the characteristics of God. I’m going to change around John’s words here. If we are a child of God, one of the characteristics that should exude from us is love…if we do not love (and this is scary) then we do not know God.
How do we know that God loves us? John continues with some familiar words – words that are echoed in John 3:16. God loves us because Jesus came so that we might have life. Jesus came to be a sacrifice for our sins and to give us eternal life. Remember, it’s not our love for God that brought Jesus to earth, but God’s love for us.
Over and over in this passage John tells us that we must love one another. If we love one another, then people can see who God is. Otherwise, as John states, no one has seen God…but if we love…God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us. Yes, we have a heavy responsibility to love others, because through us others can see the love of God. If we don’t love…then others can’t see the love of God.
Wow, to think that we are responsible for people being able to see God’s love. John goes on to tell us that we have been given the Spirit of God. John now recounts that he has been an eyewitness to Jesus incarnation. That Jesus came to be our Savior. If we confess that Jesus is the Son of God – we have God (through his Holy Spirit) living in us and we should exude God’s characteristics.
Look what John writes in 1 John 4:16:
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
These are important words in our day. There are many who think of Christians as haters…For many we are more known by what we are against rather than what we are for. God wants us to show others his love…It should be a natural fruit of our walk with God. As John goes on to say, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” We could say that as we live in God, our love grows more mature or our love grows more complete. So many times we think of that word perfect and we don’t think it’s attainable. But in this case and in many cases in the scripture, perfection means maturity or completion. Who wouldn’t want to press on toward completion? After all isn’t that our goal in life?
If we are living in God and growing in God’s love, then we have nothing to fear – even on the day of judgement. I think we could reverse this and say if we are not living in God and we are not growing in God’s love…then we have everything to fear…because we have not lived like Jesus.
Perfect love (a complete – a mature love) has no fear says John. If we are afraid, it is because we fear punishment. I think most of us can relate to that – especially as a child. We love our parents, but were fearful when we did something wrong, because we knew punishment was around the corner. But if we fear…we have not fully experienced God’s love. Why do we love God? Why do we love each other? Because God has loved us first.
As we finish up this section, John tells us it is impossible to love God and hate a Christian brother or sister. I love the logic. If we can’t love people we can see, how can we love a God that we can’t see – because (remember from earlier), we are an expression of God’s love. Remember it’s not a new commandment, but an old one.
Those who love God must love their Christian brothers and sisters.