1 JOHN 4:7-21 February 14, 2016
“THE LOVE OF GOD”
I think it is very appropriate on Valentine’s Day to look at the love of God. Often when one thinks about love we unintentionally use the human definition for love and think it applies to God. The word love is defined as “intense affections and warm feelings for another”. It is hoped that Christians love God more deeply than simply having warm feelings for our Lord. Hopefully when we give a valentine to our beloved we truly have intense, passionate feelings for our loved one. God however, is not ruled by his passions and he does not lose his temper. God is a spirit and when we talk about his attributes we mean that love is a part of his very being. The love of God is much more than intense feelings.
The apostle John describes God as being love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV) “8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” In his essential nature and in all his actions, God is loving! 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV) “ 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.”
Most non-Christians and even some Christians misunderstand when God is described as being love. They think that love means any type of love that people have for another person. We must interpret scripture with scripture. The bible also declares that God is holy. 1 John 1:5 (NIV) “5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Light means holiness and purity as compared to darkness which means moral perversity and unrighteousness. 1 John 3:7-8 (NIV) “7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil.”God cannot and will not give approval to any behavior that the bible declares is sin. God cannot go against his holiness by giving approval to sin.
God does not owe us anything but judgment. Romans 3:23 (NIV) “23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 (NIV) “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is why the love of God is so amazing. God loves us in spite of our sinfulness. He knows we are sinful and yet he bestows his love upon us as a gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Let’s now return to what the love of God means. John 3:16 (NIV) 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All that God does is based on love, even when we do not understand all that occurs. Romans 8:28-30 (NIV) “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” God’s plans are working out according to his will.
Children often do not understand why a parent will say no at times. As teens many of us thought our parents were being mean when they set limits upon us. Hebrews 12:5-11 (NIV) “5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” We are called to be holy! Growing in the faith is a work in progress. We will struggle with our sinful desires until the day we are taken to glory. We must place our trust in God who loves us as the loving Father that he is!
Many Christians mistakenly think they are being punished when bad things happen to us. (cancer, heart problems, broken bones, long term illnesses) We live in a fallen world where everything has been corrupted and affected by sin. We are called to have a different outlook. James 1:2-4 (NIV) “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” God’s love for us does not change or diminish over time. His love remains constant and is with us at all times, even when we do not “feel it”. So we should develop a mindset that accepts whatever is thrown our way with trust and confidence. This does not mean that we should not pray for healing and for these difficulties to be removed. Yet, we are to trust God that He knows what he is doing. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV) “7 To keep me from becoming conceited … there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Paul had developed the right mindset and was not thrown off center by his thorn in the flesh.
As we begin to grasp the depth of his love for us our joy will deepen and will remain with us. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV) “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
So what do we do with the knowledge of his great love for us? We are called to love! John 15:17 (NIV) “17 This is my command: Love each other.” As God as loved us, may we respond in love to all we meet.
Let us pray.