Before we can understand how we are to love each other, we have to first understand a couple of things about God’s love. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, God’s love flows out of his character. His love is most clearly demonstrated through the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ. That brings us to my third observation from John’s text: God’s love is what enables us to love one another. Check this out.
“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 confess 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” (1 John 4:11-16, NLT).
To summarize John’s words, the only way we can appropriately love one another is to embody Christ’s love and let his love be expressed through our lives. So how do we do that?
1. I must understand that God’s love for me is more than part of a legal transaction.
As a believer I embraced God’s love at the moment of my salvation. God loved me and sent his Son, and I responded to his grace in faith and received Christ as Lord and Savior. But God’s love is more than a legal transaction. It is important that I understand this because if all God’s love means to me is that I receive salvation and go to heaven when I die I’ll never be able to fully love others. It is true that I embraced Christ’s love at salvation, but I must also embody that love. His love indwells me, thus enabling me to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved. His love is not merely an experience. It’s a relationship.
2. The command to love one another is beyond my personal ability.
I must confess that I do not have what it takes to love others as Christ would have me to. It is a goal that is beyond my reach. I need to rely on Christ’s indwelling love to be able to love others. Otherwise, I will settle for simply being nice.
3. God gives his love to me so He can get his love through me to others.
I have certainly benefited from God’s love. The day that I finally understood that God loves me in spite of myself was a great revelation. In his love I find comfort, strength, and security. But I began to mature when I realized that God loves others as well. It’s not just about me. It’s about others as well.