Everyone knows what ‘love’ means to them but we find it hard to define. In the Bible there are about 615 pages about love but pages on the Internet are 49,600,000 – Intimate encounters; Love NY; Love Calculator; Love spells; Love Language; Love Dogs; Love Cats and on and on. Pages on the Internet “Love of God” are 3,150,000 – Prayers; Praise; Love in Qur’an; Litany written by Pope Pius VI; etc: We can say we love another human being and use the same word in our language to describe how we feel about our cat, a dress or a favourite meal.
As we look at what God really wanted to say through this wonderful little letter of 1 John the emphasis will be on ‘love’ from Him who is Love Himself. We trust that by faith when we have finished and been led by the Holy Spirit along this journey we will have great victory in all our relationships especially our relationship with God Himself. ‘That we being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:17-19.
What is love?
The Greek language in the Bible uses these four words for ‘love’
Agape – Unconditional, undeserved love, an act of the will according to the Word of God. The feelings come after we put His love into action. This is the love God showed in giving up His only Son Jesus to leave His side and come to earth to be the Holy Lamb. He allowed Him to be sacrificed to take the sin of the whole world so the Father could have His favoured creation back in fellowship with Him after Adam had given them away. “Therefore be imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example) as well-beloved children (imitate their Father). And walk in love, (esteeming and delighting in one another) as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God (for you, so that it became) a sweet fragrance.” Ephesians 5:1-2 AMP.
Phileo – Reciprocal love involving emotions. It is love based on giving and receiving one another, a sisterhood or friendship. “Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these (others do – with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father – agape)?” He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You (that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend – phileo). He said to him, Feed My lambs. Again He said to him the second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me (with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father – agape)? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You (that I have a deep instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend – phileo). He said to him Shepherd (tend) My sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me (with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend – phileo)? Peter was grieved (was saddened and hurt) that He should ask him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You (that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend, Phileo) Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep John 21:15-17 AMP
Storge – This is family love, father son and mother daughter, 2 Timothy 3:3. “Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family), giving precedence and showing honour to one another. Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavour; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10-11.
Eros – Love expressed sexually between husband and wife. “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes….. How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice. Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue ………..” Song of Songs 4:9-11.
God’s Agape Love is seen in Jesus
1. He loved not His life unto death. Revelation 12:11
2. The love of God was shed abroad in His heart by the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5
3. He overcame the world. Revelation 3:21
4. He had no fear. 1 John 4:18.
5. He had no sickness. Exodus 15:26
6. He walked in the covenant of Deuteronomy 28 and Deuteronomy 29
7. Satan had no authority over Him. 1 Corinthians 15:24.
8. He never failed. 1 Corinthians 13:8
9. He recognised who was behind His difficulties. John 10:10
10. He made Himself obedient to death. Philippians 2:8
11. He knew the Love of God Ephesians 3:17-19
We are called to love God first for who He is, His Presence not His Presents ‘This is love: not that we loved God , but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.’ 1 John 4:10-12. We have to receive love in order to give love, so let us take these wonderful verses from 1 John as our focus over the next few weeks meditating on them and so burning them into our heart “God loves me” Then our lives will be transformed by the renewing of our mind, Romans 12:2. ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:34-35. As the agape love of God grows in us for all people our witness will be powerful and God will draw people to Himself.
When we walk in love we must be first to:-
1. Repent, Acts 3:19
2. Put the Word first, not our feelings, Psalm 119:105.
3. Obey the Word, Matthew 4:4.
4. Guard our mouth, Ephesians 4:31
5. Not fear what people can do to us, Luke 12:4-6
6. Fear God. Psalm 147:11
7. Not stay in willful sin, 1 John 3:21-22.
8. Be determined to strengthen ourselves with love, to go out and serve the unworthy and selfish. 1 Corinthians 16:14
9. Develop all our talents so we can be a benefit to those who have very little, Colossians 3:12-14
The enormous endless subject of ‘love’ will be developed in further studies. There are just a few verses being looked at each week so we can dig deeper into what God wants to say to us and so we can be wise women of God who apply daily all we are learning. Take time to pray now and read the prayer first choosing the parts that are relevant to your situation.
Prayer ‘In Jesus’ name, I make a fresh and strong commitment today to live the life of love, to let the tenderness of God flow through me and heal the wounded hearts of those I meet. Father teach me to love even when things go wrong; to be patient and kind when the children are underfoot; to overlook the spiteful words of an angry spouse; to rejoice when someone gets something I was wanting. Teach me to talk in love, to lay gossip quietly aside and to take up words of grace instead. Lord, Your Word says that Your love is already inside me… that it has been shed abroad in my heart. So today I resolve to remove every obstacle that would keep that love from flowing freely into the lives of others. I put resentments behind me, and I forgive all those who have done me wrong. In the days ahead, cause me to increase and excel and overflow with Your love. Cause me to be what this world needs most of all …. A living example of love, Amen.’
No 01: Introduction – 1 John Challenge Questions
1. Stop and think about what you think of as ‘love’ and record your thoughts here.
How about red roses and/or chocolates; a cuddle from a small child; your partner doing the dishes without being asked; caring for a very sick relative; saving a child in water as a risk to your own life; going to Iraq as a soldier.
2. What opportunity have you had to put love into action this week?
Read the notes about the introduction.
3. Give an example from your own life experience of a) agape love
b) Phileo love
c) Storge love
d) Eros love
4. From the verses mentioned on the first page which one really excited or encouraged you?
5. Out of ‘God’s agape love seen in Jesus’ which point did you find challenging and which encouraging?
6. Is there anything else in the notes that really spoke to you?
7. Did you manage to make the prayer your own at the end of the notes? Try to look at it every week. Do you understand how your life will change as you look at your love walk? Is there a particular area God is asking you to focus on?
If you can make time read through the whole letter of John and imagine John is writing it to you direct.
Read 1 John 1:1-4 (John’s epistle) and John 1:1-5 (John’s Gospel)
8. How long is John saying that Jesus has been around?
9. What physical senses does John refer to in the first two verses?
10. What two forms of ‘life’ does John describe in both passages?
11. What does John state is his relationship with Jesus that allows him to tell others?
12. Why is John ‘proclaiming’ these things about Jesus?
13. What is John’s reason for writing his letter?
14. What does John want his readers to know?
15. Does John being an eye witness make his letter more valid to you? Why?
16. How does it make you feel when you are reading and studying all about what Jesus has done?
17. Write down a few aspects of Christ’s character that you know. Is this how you see Him?
18. Learn by heart – ‘We are now writing these things to you so that our joy (in seeing you included) may be full (and your joy may be complete). 1 John 1:4