1 John 4: What is Love?

Love.  Everyone seeks it in some way or another.  Everyone has an idea of what it is, but we also realize it is more complicated than the platitudes we usually use.  We reduce love down to the emotions of romance or we so elevate and spiritualize the concept of love that only the superheroes of faith like Mother Teresa or Corrie ten Boom are capable of true love.

What is love?  There are several chapters in the New Testament where the focus is intently on love.  First Corinthians 13 is the most famous of these, but 1 John 4 needs to be on the short list.  The words “love,” “loves,” “loved,” or “beloved” are used 30 times in today’s twenty-one verse chapter.  What can we learn about real love from John?

  1. Love comes from God, not ourselves (4:7)
  2. Christians must especially love each other (4:7)
  3. Learning to love is one of the ways we are born anew spiritually as God’s children (4:7)
  4. Learning to love helps us come to know God (4:7)
  5. A lack of love is a fundamental block to spiritual birth and growth (4:8)
  6. God’s nature is tied to love (4:8, 16)
  7. Jesus was the supreme example of God’s love (4:9, 10)
  8. God loves us before we ever reciprocated that love, and our love is also a response to His (4:10, 19)
  9. We show the best love to others when we imitate the sacrificial love of God (4:11)
  10. Loves means laying down your own will for others (4:11)
  11. God is made visible through the love of his people (4:12)
  12. A person has to believe or have faith that God loves him or her (4:16)
  13. One can “live” or “abide” in love as if it is a state of being (4:16)
  14. Fear is antithetical to love, and true love will eliminate fear from a relationship (4:18)
  15. There are measures of love, and love can be “incomplete” (4:17, 18)
  16. A Christian can’t be hateful to others and still claim to love God (4:20, 21)
  17. Loving visible humans should be easier than loving an invisible God (4:20)

Which of these meant the most to you?  What else did you learn about love today?

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Categories: 1 John | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “1 John 4: What is Love?

  1. Melanie

    I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of loving people we like or with whom we sympathize but failing to love those who annoy us or who have made what we consider stupid choices. I also think I have found myself thinking, “We’ll, I can see why God would love me. I’m a pretty nice person, and I don’t give him much trouble.” Then something jars me into reality, and I remember that I do not deserve God’s love, that i actually was his enemy until he intervened with the ultimate act of love. Who am I, then, to choose not to love ANYONE? Items 4&6 in your list mean a great deal to me because I struggle to grasp the nature of God and because its a daily challenge to try to be more like God.

  2. “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.”

    I love that phrasing of this. God dwells where love is found. God is there because God is the very essence of that love. Get busy loving someone and you will find God there. We experience God by loving people.

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