Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Today we would like to invite you to study a systematic study of 1 John chapter 4:7-21, where we learn so much about God’s love.
God’s love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. God sets the pattern for true love, the basis for all love relationships – when we love someone dearly, we are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of His Son, the highest price He could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that He had bought for us. When we share the Good News with others, our love must be like Jesus’ willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God’s love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 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.
This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – 1 John 4:7-21.
VERSE BY VERSE STUDY
A. 4:7 – Everyone believes that love is important, but love is usually thought of a feeling. In reality, love is a choice and an action, as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 shows. God is the source of our love. He loved us enough to sacrifice His Son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything He did in life and death was supremely loving. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love; He lives in our heart and makes us more and more like Christ. God’s love always involves a choice and an action, and our love should be like His. How well do we display our love for God in the choices we make and the actions we take?
B. 4:8 – John says, “God is love”, not “Love is God”. Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love. The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “love”. But that isn’t real love; it is the exact opposite -selfishness. And God is not that kind of “love”. Real love is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect. If we truly know God, we will love as He does.
C. 4:9, 10 – EXPLAINS:
1. Why God creates – because He loves, He creates people to love.
2. Why God cares – because He Loves them, He cares for sinful people.
3. Why we are free to choose – God wants a loving response from us.
4. Why Christ died – His love for us caused Him to offer a solution to the problem of sin.
5. Why we receive eternal life – God’ love expresses itself to us forever.
Nothing sinful or evil can exist in God’s presence. He is absolute goodness. He cannot overlook, condone, or excuse sin as though it never happened. He loves us, but His love does not make Him morally lax. If we trust in Christ, however, we will not have to bear the penalty for our sins. We will be acquitted by His atoning sacrifice.
D. 4:12 – Jesus is the complete expression of God in human form, and He has revealed God to us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.
Some people simply enjoy being with others. They make friends with strangers easily and always are surrounded by friends. Other people are shy or reserved. They have a few friends and are frequently uncomfortable talking with people they don’t know or mingling in crowds. Shy people don’t need to become extroverts in order to love others. John isn’t telling us how many people to love, but how much to love the people we already know. Our job is to love faithfully the people God has given us to love, whether there are two or two hundred of them. If God sees that we are ready to love others, He will bring them to us. No matter how shy we are, we don’t need to be afraid of the love commandment. God provides us the strength to do what He asks.
E. 4:13 – When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in our life is proof that we really belong to Him. He also gives us the power to love. Let us rely on that power as we reach out to others.
F. 4:18 – If we ever are afraid of the future, eternity, or God’s judgement, we can remind ourselves of God’s love. We know that He loves us perfectly. We can resolve our fears first by focusing on His immeasurable love for us, and then by allowing Him to love others through us. His love will quiet our fears and give us confidence.
G. 4:19 – God’s love is the source of all human love, and it spreads like fire. In loving His children, God kindles a flame in their hearts. In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God’s love through them.
H. 4:20, 21. – It is easy to say we love God when that, love doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us – our family members and fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in His image.
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