Reasons Why Christians Love
(1 John 4:7-21)
By Gary Estacio
“7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so 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. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one
another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. “15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the long and enduring persecutions of Christians around the world. They do not only suffer disdain and neglect from non-believers and their own governments but now the disproportionate distribution of needed relief has become even more apparent, and often to their disadvantage. It is painful enough to hear and see these fellow believers being persecuted for their Christian faith, but it even more agonizing to see and hear that they are being deprived of much needed aid only because they believe in Jesus. Brethren that are in countries like India, Central, South and South East Asia are suffering considerably. They need much support from their able brothers so they can cope with this on-going pandemic crisis. There are Christian organizations that are trying to reach out to them, yet these also face two great risks: imprisonment by the authorities, and catching the contagious virus themselves. These persecuted brethren are in need, and as able people of God, we should reach out to exemplify the love that John was exhorting the early Christians about in this letter.
The apostle John wrote this epistle. It was likely written between A.D. 85-95. His purpose is to confront the error of gnosticism, which became a more serious problem in the second century churches. As a philosophy of religion it held that matter is evil and spirit is good. The solution to the tension between these two was knowledge, or gnosis, through which man rose from the mundane to the spiritual. In the gospel message, this led to two false theories concerning the person of Christ: Docetism—regarding the human Jesus as a ghost, and Cerinthianism—making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times divine. John’s key purpose is to set boundaries on the content of faith and to give believers assurance of their salvation.
Because John’s letter was about the basics of faith in Christ, it helped his readers reflect honestly on their faith. It helped them answer the question, Are we true believers? John told them that they could tell by looking at their actions. If they loved one another, that was evidence of God’s presence in their lives. But if they bickered and fought all the time or were selfish and did not look out for one another, they were betraying that they, in fact, did not know God.
Embedded in this letter is John’s exhortation that the children of God should love one another as a powerful testimony to the unbelieving world. Love that is expressed and manifested among believers is one proof true of regeneration essential in fighting false doctrines and enduring persecution. John gives his readers 5 compelling reasons why Christians should love one another in 1 John 4:7-21.
III. Reasons why Christian Love vv. 7-21
1. God is the essence of love vv. 7-8
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is love. The Gnostics refute this because they say that God is immaterial, therefore cannot express love. But the Bible tells us that God is the sole source of Love. Love began with God when He created the world and us. Without Him, there would be no love in the world because it came from Him. Since we are of God, we called to love one another continually. This is not a sentimental, sexual or social kind of love but a sacrificial love that promotes the best welfare of other believers. When God saved us, we received His nature, therefore we must reflect His love towards others. Someone may profess to be a believer but only those who display love like the heavenly Father can be said to be truly born again.
2. We are to follow God’s example vv. 9-11
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so 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.
As believers, we are to follow God’s supreme example of sacrificial love. He sent His only begotten Son to us so that we may find life. Christ’s unique relationship with God which is distinct among all creation made Him so precious in His sight, yet God gave Him away as His greatest gift to mankind. The judgment of sin on the cross was the greatest example of God’s love. His wrath was poured upon His beloved Son in behalf of us. Christ literally became the mercy seat for us where His blood spilled as atonement for our sins, satisfying the justice that God required so that we gain eternal life. God loved us before there is any response on our part. He gave His Son to make expiation for our sins. We were saved because of God’s ultimate sacrifice, therefore we are to follow Him by sacrificially loving one another. This is the norm for us. He is the motivation of our love.
3. Love is the Heart of Christian Witness v. 12
12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
God, who is unseen, longs to pour out His love through His people. Jesus is no longer on earth physically to manifest this love. What remains is His body, the church, to showcase and exemplify His love towards His people. This is very critical in our testimony as Christians. Love comes from God, manifested in Jesus His Son, and demonstrated in His body, the church. Our love for fellow believers is one of the most powerful proof to the world that Christian faith is indeed from God.
4. Love is the Assurance of Christians vv. 13-16
13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(The key word is "knowledge," with its related words, occurring at least 13 times in the Book of 1 John. Brief Summary: False spiritual teachers were a big problem in the early church. Because there was not a complete New Testament that believers could refer to, many churches fell prey to pretenders who taught their own ideas and advanced themselves as leaders. John wrote this letter to set the record straight on some important issues, particularly concerning the identity of Jesus Christ.)
We should love because love is the assurance of believers. When God poured out His love toward us through Jesus Christ's death on the cross, the Holy Spirit indwelt us. He is our seal; therefore we are assured of salvation. Because of this assurance, we are able to declare and profess our Christian conviction to the world. As Christ became our mediator before God, He now abides in us, empowering us to love, both believers and unbelievers. Therefore we are to go out and to testify before men of who God is. We are to evangelize and share the gospel of His salvation to the world.
5. Love is the Christian’s Confidence in the Day of Judgment vv. 17-21
17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
This does not mean sinless perfection but mature love that is marked by confidence in the face of judgment. Believers can rest in the truth that as God loved Christ, they are also the object of His enduring love. This means that because Christ already secured our future through His death on the cross, we are secured from the judgment that is to come. Through Christ, God’s love is perfected in us. This love eliminates fear as we are able to come to Him in love. 2 Timothy 1: 7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
As the spirit of fear is removed from us, His love for us gives us the feeling of belonging to the family of God. Because He first loved us, therefore we are to show the same love towards others, especially our fellow believers in its full extent, quality and impact. This is the true test of our salvation. One cannot love God without first loving his fellow believers. If our love for God is not accompanied by our unselfish love towards others, our claim to be a true believer is in question.
Love came from God. It became visible when He created the universe and mankind. Without Him, there would be no love because He is the source of love. God’s fundamental nature is to love as shown by His redemptive plan for us through His Son Jesus Christ. The cross is the greatest demonstration of His love for us. God’s saving the sinner through His grace is the true source of love. He sent His Holy Spirit to transform rebellious sinners like you and me and make us new creatures in love. Because God Himself is love, He command us to love Him and our fellow human being especially those that belongs to Him. In his letter, John explains to us the fellowship we have with others and with Jesus Christ. It differentiates between happiness, which is temporary and fleeting, and true joy that we can achieve by truly loving one another.
The cries and pleas of our brethren are much deeper this time. Christ’s body is aching and something urgent must be done by those that are able. There are workers that are willing to risk their lives so they can reach suffering believers. but they need partners and support, in terms of prayers, logistics and funding. In all this, God can use us to be a beacon hope – both those who are suffering and to those who want to reach out to them – for He cares for His children.
We are to prove to the world, therefore, that we belong to Christ by reaching out to these suffering brethren in any way we can. Our love in action towards them supports our claim that indeed we are His true followers. The call to help is urgent. Brethren, let’s find ways how to showcase this love through:
Setting aside specific prayer times for this specific need.
Supporting fund drives to secure PPE’s, relief food packs and test kits. E.g. Open Doors Organization, GLCC MM programs.
Volunteering to be at the frontlines, if you are capable and able.
Watch the video of this devotional here.