INDEX

1 John 4:19-21

As this is the last look at "love" in this letter, let's just have a quick review of previous studies where we have looked at different aspects of "love".

  • In study four, we saw how our "love walk" is directly related to our obedience to God's word. Love is such a strong, spiritual force that many other areas of our life’s journey depend on it, such as our prayer life.
  • In study five, we focused on "My Father loves me", seeing that we have to receive His amazing love for us before we can love ourselves or others. The Father has poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5; Galatians 4:6) This enables us to love even those we may want to hate.
  • In study seven, we learned that our love is to be wholehearted for God, not dividing our love between the world and Him. We looked at a new way of living in love at all times by the power of His Spirit.
  • In study eleven, we looked at the greatest love: God’s love - when He knows all about us, but still loves to call us His children. We looked at "the love languages of God" and how valuable it is to find out how we receive love and how we can give love to those God has given us to love.
  • In study thirteen, we tackled the problem of loving our enemies and all those people with whom we feel awkward and find it difficult to love as sisters.
  • In study fourteen, we looked "perfect love" in the face, by seeing what it means to lay down our lives for another person. We also looked at the "Love Revolution" DVD, showing us the world statistics on poverty and trafficking with the enormous job there is to be done if we are to show God’s amazing love, one person at a time.
  • In study sixteen, we saw how the Christian life is the simple Life: just believe in the "name" (Jesus' character and authority) and love others. We committed ourselves to the principle that, whatever the Father tells us to do, we will obey.
  • In study eighteen, we saw that God’s example of love should be our motivation to preach the "gospel" (the good news about Jesus) to all people; that our love should not be superficial or sentimental, but costly and unconditional. We looked at the "prodigal son" and the attitude of the older brother, contrasted with that of the father, who never gave up on his son. We considered how this attitude is exactly what we need to have towards all the unsaved people that we know.
  • In study nineteen, we saw that, as we are full of His Spirit, so His love makes sure that there is no room for fear, which can dominate so many of our reactions that are not motivated by love. Consequently, we have no need to fear, because God’s aim is not to trip us up or catch us out, but to love us and show us His grace and mercy. So much that passes for love these days is, in fact, possessive and manipulative. Many children feel loved only as long as they are successful in all they do and not an embarrassment to their parents. If they fail or let the family down, they fear that the love of their parents will not be there for them because it is only self-seeking love and not the sort of love that God has for us. But, as we focus on God’s love, the sense of fear will disappear as we realise that He only acts for our good.

Finally, in this study, John sums up all that he has said about love previously in this wonderful book. He reminds us that we would never have loved God unless He had loved us first. Of ourselves, we do not love with the sort of love that God has for us. We cannot truly love without God first pouring His love into us by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is this kind of love that we see when people within the body of Christ show unselfish, sacrificial love for each other. It cannot be separated from our love for God. Saying "I love God" is easy but, when people oppose us or give us trouble, we must choose to love them. We can only show our true love for God by loving them. All people are made in God’s image, so there is something of God in every person. (Genesis 1:27) We have to look for and love those things in them that we see reflect God Himself, otherwise we cannot say that we love God whom we cannot yet see at all.

Hard love

We can see from this that loving God is not all that easy. It is certainly not the "weak crutch" that so many accuse Christians of needing. John was writing this letter to a community of Christians who were under attack from the enemy's lies. Many, who said that they loved God, showed no love to others and caused trouble and broken relationships in the church. John gives us a salutary reminder of the dangers of hypocrisy: claiming to love God but not really loving Him at all. Such behaviour is clearly seen by the way in which we behave towards others. There is never an excuse for not showing love, if we know and understand how much God has loved us. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in His image. Our love for each other comes from God and is all the more amazing because we know that His love for us is undeserved and generous beyond our wildest dreams. If God’s love has really reached into our lives and is transforming us, then we will not hate our brothers or sisters. We may be disappointed by them or hurt by them, discouraged or saddened by their behaviour, but we can never hate those with whom God has called us to share His kingdom. We may hate what they do or what they say, but to hate them is not possible if we are children of God. If we realise how much God hates our sin and rebellion yet, at the same time, loves us so deeply, then we have a wonderful example to follow in loving others.

The test that John gives for true followers of Jesus Christ is not how much we pray, how well we know our Bibles or how many times we go to church or Christian conferences. The test is: do we confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the flesh, fully human, died for our sins and rose from the dead AND do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? If we do not love those who God has poured His love into, "how can we claim to love God who we have never seen". We need to live out this truth in our lives and our churches more effectively, allowing the love of God to be shared amongst us all. His love must dominate, rather than our prejudices, opinions and insecurities. How many Christians go to the "house of God" harbouring a grudge or bad feeling against someone with whom they are worshipping? This is not the way to love. Some Christians hurt and wound others with their thoughtless comments. This is not love. So many simply ignore the needs of others. This also is not the way of love. We are to love each other unconditionally. We are not to judge whom we love by how they behave as people of faith: how they live their lives or how they worship. That is between them and God. We do not get a prize for loving unconditionally, but we do get a clear conscience and peace and joy in our hearts as we obey our Father.

Some points about love

As we love one another, we will glorify God and honour Him in front of the rest of the world. This is the most powerful witness we have and shows the world that God loves them as well. God says: "Love me, love my children!"

  • Jesus’ love is the standard for our lives. (John 15:12)
  • Love guarantees that our prayers will be answered. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
  • Our speech shows our love. (Philippians 4:8; James 3:5-6)
  • Speaking the truth in love causes us to "grow up" into Him. (Ephesians 4:15)
  • Love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Peter 1:22)
  • Love has to grow. (Philippians 1:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  • Love covers sin. (1 Peter 4:8)
  • Love is proof of discipleship. (John 13:35)
  • Love is self-sacrificing. (John 15:13)
  • Love encourages, is patient, kind, courteous, humble, unselfish, good tempered, gentle and always believes the best. Love is sincere. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Mephibosheth

The most wonderful picture of God’s love is seen in 2 Samuel 9 ;1-13  in the story of David fulfilling his covenant (promise) to his friend, Jonathan, by taking care of his disabled son, Mephibosheth, after Jonathan’s death. David sought the young man out and then took him into his palace and provided completely all that he needed, with servants to care for him. This is what our Father has done for us as He has fulfilled His covenant with us through the blood of Jesus Christ. God shows that He keeps His part of the covenant by providing everything for us that we need: spiritually, eternally, emotionally and physically. In exchange we give Him our weaknesses, insecurities, sinfulness and feeble efforts. This is a fair exchange for us!

Love never fails!

When we have a very difficult problem and cannot see any solution to it, then we need to put the power of love to work on it. The power of love is the greatest power in the universe. It never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8) We simply need to release God - as He is love – into the problem situation. In doing so, we commit ourselves to walk continuously in love and give to God the responsibility for resolving the situation. This love is patient. It is kind. It is not jealous or haughty, conceited or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way. It is not touchy or resentful and it pays no attention to a suffered wrong. Love rejoices when right and truth prevail; it bears up under anything and everything that comes. It is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Its hopes never fade under any circumstances and it endures everything without weakening. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - Amplified version) We need to release love into every situation, with every prayer and every thought, until love completely overtakes our lives. This love will strengthen us and cast out every fear (1 John 4:18) that has robbed us of God’s greatest blessings. It will drive the enemy out of all our activities and set us free from the torment of darkness.

Take a few moments to put your own name in the spaces in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.. We need to realise that, as Jesus lives in us by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11), we are filled with the amazing love of God Himself.

Love confession - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

[your name] endures long and is patient and kind.
[your name] is never envious and does not boil over with jealousy.
[your name] is not boastful or vainglorious; she does not display herself haughtily.
[your name] is not conceited (arrogant or inflated with pride).
[your name] is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
[your name] does not insist on her own rights or her own way for she is not self-seeking.
[your name] is not touchy or fretful or resentful.
[your name] takes no account of the evil done to her. (She pays no attention to a suffered wrong.)
[your name] does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
[your name] bears up under anything and everything that comes along.
[your name] is ever ready to believe the best of every person.
[your name] has hopes that do not fade under any circumstances.
[your name] endures everything (without weakening) and never fails.

Showing love through prayer

One wonderful way to give love to someone is praying for them. Here are a few suggestions.

Intercession - what does this mean?

  • It is about praying for others, unselfishly.
  • It means taking on "the mind of Christ", so that we can see circumstances as Christ sees them.
  • It is joining with Jesus in pleading that God will act in a way that will fulfil His will for that person or situation. (Psalm 91:2-5)
  • It is facing God the Father on behalf of another person. (1 Timothy 2:1; Ezekiel 22:30)
  • It involves praying what is in the mind of the Spirit. (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:26.)
  • It means taking back from the enemy what rightfully belongs to God. (Ezekiel 22:30)

How to pray for other Christians:

  • Be thankful for their faith and changed lives. (Colossians 1:3-5)
  • Ask God to help them know what He wants them to do. (Colossians 1:9)
  • Ask God to give them spiritual understanding. (Colossians 1:9)
  • Ask God to help them live for Him. (Colossians 1:10)
  • Ask God to give them more knowledge of Him. (Colossians 1:10)
  • Ask God to give them strength and endurance. (Colossians 1:11)
  • Ask God to fill them with joy, strength and thankfulness. (Colossians 1:11)

Showing love through worship

In our love for God, we must make sure that He comes first in our worship. If we put church programmes, prophetic revelations or popular methods over and above God Himself, then we become unbalanced. We start to cling to lifeless forms and the life of God moves on without us. But, if we minister to Him first and put Him first, then our lives will be continually enriched by Him and made channels of blessing and love to others. We can never love Him too much. We can never spend too much time with Him, for our first "ministry" (service) is to Him. He is worthy to receive "glory and honour and power, for He has created all things and for His pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11)


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