Summary: Love is a powerful force and motivator in our lives. Love compels us to act, affecting our lives and our behavior toward others. Love motivated Christ to bear our sin on the cross. Genuine love has the power to transform lives.
The Evidence of Godly Love
1 John 4: 17-21
There are three words we never tire of hearing: I love you. No doubt we all have spoken those words many times in our lives, and I am sure we have been sincere, hopefully most of the time. I do fear there are times when words are empty though. We may have spoken the words “I love you,” and not really meant them from the heart. Speaking of our love is one thing, actually showing that love through our actions is quite another.
There can be no doubt concerning the love God has for us. His great love was displayed for the world to see as Christ hung on the cross of Calvary. We have discussed God being the source of our love and the need for a right relationship with Christ to experience genuine love.
Our text deals with how love affects our lives and the way it is expressed toward others. Those who possess God’s great love will reveal that love through the life they live. I want to consider the attributes of this great love as we think on: The Evidence of Godly Love.
I. The Confidence in Love (17) – Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. Experiencing and possessing the love of God has a positive impact on our lives. One such way is in the confidence love provides. Notice:
A. Love’s Maturity (17a) – Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: We experience the love of God the moment we are saved, but as we grow in Him our love matures; it is made perfect. The believer better understands the great love God has for us. We know that He is love and we dwell within His great love. Through His love we enjoy peace and rest in this life. His love enables us to rise above many of the struggles we face.
John offers an interesting aspect of this love: it allows us to look toward the day of judgment with boldness. That doesn’t reveal arrogance or pride, but rather faith and assurance. God’s love was proven as Christ bore our sin. We are now made acceptable to God in Christ and no longer fear standing before Him in judgment. I can admit my perspective of the future has changed through my relationship with Christ.
B. Love’s Motivation (17b) – because as he is, so are we in this world. In Christ we realize we are no longer accountable for our sin. We have been pardoned in Christ, forgiven of our sin, our debt being paid in full. As God views us, He sees us as He sees His Son. We have not yet made it to heaven, but we are viewed as righteous as Christ our Lord is righteous.
There is an aspect of John’s teaching we must not miss. As Christ was in the world, so are we expected to be in the world. That doesn’t imply we will achieve the perfection He enjoyed or possess the ability to love as He loved, but we are to strive for that. Our lives are to be a representation of Christ in every way, including our love for one another! We are here to maintain a consistent witness for Christ our Lord.
II. The Courage in Love (18) – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. Along with great confidence, we also can enjoy courage in the love of God. Consider:
A. The Principle (18a) – There is no fear in love. God’s love conquerors all fear. While living in sin, apart from God, our lives were dominated by fear. We were unsure of our future, concerned with our health, and even worried about ensuring financial stability. Genuine love allows us to rest from our fears. The love of God has removed such fear from my life. I do not claim to never worry, but I have no reason to. God has secured my eternal future. I have no way of knowing what life will bring, but I am secure in Christ. If He decides to call for me in death, I will simply enter His eternal presence. He has always met my needs and I have no reason to fear He will ever fail.
Often love is withheld because something is expected in return. Many want to ensure a proper return on their investment. God’s love allows us to love others sacrificially. Our love is not dependent upon what we receive in return or fearful of loss. We love others as God loved us.