KNOWING GOD through ‘LOVING ONE ANOTHER’: "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 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. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1 John 4:7-11)
In the above passage, Apostle John spelled out the nature of the love demanded from every believer. We are to love as a response to God’s own love and to His loving activity. The love of God the Father for “His only begotten Son” (v. 9) is the source of the love that binds the fellowship of believers together as a family. By giving us His Son, God the Father introduced us to the perfect love and eternal life that the Father and the Son have always enjoyed.
We must emulate God’s ‘agape’ love by loving one another (vv. 7, 11, 12) since we are “born of God”. God provides both the source (v. 9) and example (v. 11) of our love for others that is an integral part of our relationship with God (v. 12). While we have never seen God (v. 12a, John 1:18), we can see that God’s love is evident in the work of Christ (v. 9) and in our love for others (v. 12).
Apostle John explains the manifestation of God’s love in three tenses. In the past, it was manifested to us as sinners in the gift of His only begotten Son (4:9–11). In the present, it is manifested to us as saints in His dwelling in us (4:12–16). In the future, it will be manifested to us in giving us boldness in the Day of Judgment.
God loved us by sending His Son Jesus Christ as the ‘propitiation’ (satisfaction) for our sins. How can we personify God's love in our lives?
- Just like God personifies love (4:8, 16), we should reflect God’s love in our world (4:7)
- Just like God loved us (4:19), we should love God by keeping His commands (4:18, 19; 5:3)
- Just like God gave up His Son for us (4:9, 10), we should give ourselves and our substance for others (3:17; 4:11)
- Just like Christ laid down His life for us (3:16), we should also lay down our lives for others (3:16)
Thus, we can show that we are God’s children through our sacrificial attitudes and actions for others. Our love for others makes God’s love real and visible to them so we can better witness to them about Christ. It also makes God real and personal to us thus enabling us to ‘know’ God better. Let us seek to experience God’s love in your heart by sharing it with others!
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21)