Knowing God Through Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11)
Ideas to Consider
- How do we know we are born of God (vv 7-8)?
- How was love manifest, or shown, to us (vv9-10)?
- Since we are loved, how are we to respond (v11)?
(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)
If we are born of God we will love. According to John, this is a fact. It’s just the way life is. Christians love. Period.
It’s not that we love and then become Christians. We don’t love in order to get God to reveal Himself to us and make us His children. No. The only way we can truly love others is by first seeing God’s love for us.
First we see and accept God’s love. Then we love others.
And how is God’s love seen? By looking at His Son Jesus Christ. God didn’t send Jesus to earth to give us a hug and say, “Man, I sure love you! You make me happy.” Jesus’ love was more than just words. He put His love into action and His actions spoke just as loud as His word. The whole life of Jesus was one of service, and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Jesus loved others by giving Himself — His time, His energy, His prayers, His reputation, and ultimately His life. Giving without expecting anything in return, Jesus loved us.
The love that John writes about is the same love that Jesus talks about when describing how we are to respond to our enemies (and remember we, too, were once enemies of God).
…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
This is the type of love that God desires more than offerings or sacrifices.
And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33)
Giving — giving of time, energy, prayer, reputation, and even our lives — without expecting anything in return is how we should love others. We are to love even when those we love don’t deserve it; even when they will never earn our love. And we are to love them unconditionally. Not because we have too, or because God said so; but because we are His children it is now part of who we are.
Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him (Luke 9:23). He wants to lead us down a path that will require us to humbly set aside our wants, needs, and desires so that we can fully love others, just as He did. Before we step onto that path, it looks scary. It seems hard, even impossible. And it would be… if He weren’t leading.
Lord in Heaven, thank you for loving us, sending your Son for us, and choosing us as your children. We do not deserve how you love us, which makes your love so amazingly sweet. I think that I am learning that the call to follow your Son is a call to love others more than I ever dreamed necessary or possible. I admit I don’t want to do this. It is scary and looks uncomfortable. I would rather live my life for myself, as I choose. This is sin and I repent. Thank you for forgiving me and cleansing me of this unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). I willinging, though nervously, step onto the path of love that your Son is calling me to. Please help me to keep my eyes fixed on Him as He commands me to love as He loves. For His glory I pray. Amen.
Spend sometime reflecting on what you’ve learned while reading God’s word. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
- Before we accepted grace through faith, we were enemies of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). How does this knowledge help you to understand the love Jesus was describing in Matthew 5:44?
- How do you give love unconditionally to those who will never earn or deserve it?
- Do you love God expecting nothing in return? Is loving Him this way possible?
FURTHER STUDY IDEAS
Here are a few study ideas to complete between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one or two a day in order to keep you thinking about 1 John 4:7-11 passage all week long.
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- Start or continue a double entry journal.
- Hand write the passage.
- Did this passage make you think of other passages in the Bible? Share those passages with the rest of us in the comments.
- Study the original Greek word for love and for propitiation. How does this help you understand the passage?
- Read Luke 9:23-27. How is this related to today’s passage?
- Go to your local library and check out Crazy Love by Francis Chan or purchase a copy here*.
- Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, write a post and share it in the next #QuietlyThroughThursday LINK UP.
- Read 1 John 1-5. Yes, ma’am, the whole thing.
Click the image below to see a full list of posts in the Quietly Through 1st John series.