Love is . . .
Focal passage: 1 John 4:7-21
There used to be a cute little fad of defining love. “Love is . . .” You fill in the blank. Here, in 1 John 4:7-21, we can fill in that blank, “Love is . . .”
Life-giving. The famous early church leader Augustine prayed, “Lord, you command self-control. Grant what You command and command what You will.”
Here, God tells us to love then that He has granted that love (4:7-12). Love issues out of us like good fruit from a good tree (4:7). God demonstrated His love by sending His Son (4:9, c.f. John 3:16).
He showed us His love by giving us life, “so that we might live through Him,” (4:9b). Once we have that life, we will love.
If we don’t love, then, it is because we don’t know God (4:8). All the religion in the world won’t make up for a refusal to love. And the reason: “God is love.”
Those who don’t love don’t have the life of God.
Many southern churches used to exclude people because of their skin color.
Loving pastors were run off because they tried to reform that sin. Here we see how dreadful that sin it.
As a lack of love, racism shows a lack of the life of God.
God gave us life, by giving “His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10b).
Propitiation means a sacrifice to take away wrath.
In our sins, God is angry with us. Rightly angry.
The Father sent the Son to bear that just anger. And one of the lavish gifts God gives His people is confidence.
We no longer fear God’s punishment because we know that Christ has taken it for us.
God’s love is lavish. God has given us His Son to save all kinds of people (4:10-14) and He’s given us the Spirit (4:13).
God has given all of Himself, in three-Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So we can “abide,” live, in God.
He gave us this love first. His love takes the initiative. We love, now, because He loved us first (4:19). That’s lavish!
God’s lavish love in us will demonstrate itself. It’s easy to say, “I love God” (4:20; c.f. 4:12).
After all, how are we supposed to tell? There is one indisputable evidence: whether we love Christians we can see. Practically: providing a ride, money, food, welcoming all kinds of people. Seeking to give to others the life God has so lavishly given us.
We love an invisible God by loving visible people.