Summary: 7th in the "Love Notes" series. Examines the source and value of Christian Love.
There’s an old story about a preacher who kept preaching the same message week after week. When he was finally questioned about it he replied “Well you haven’t started following this one yet.”
In fact that story has some grounding in History with the preacher in question being John Himself. The early Church Father Jerome records:
"When the blessed evangelist John, the apostle, had lived in Ephesus into his extreme old age and could hardly be carried to the meetings of the church by the disciples, and when in speaking he could no longer put together many words, he would not say anything else in the meetings but this: "Little children, love one another!"
When at last the disciples and brothers present got tired of hearing the same thing again and again, they said, "Master, why do you keep saying the same thing?" John replied with a saying worthy of him: ‘Because it is the Lord’s command, and it is enough if it is really done’ “(Jerome, Commentary on Galatians 6:10 AD 387-388”)
So if this morning’s message seems repetitive with some of the others I’ve preached from 1 John, I’m probably being faithful to His writing. For throughout the letter this strong theme of the necessity of Love is repeated over and over.
This morning as we revisit the subject of Love I’d like you to notice with me 4 truths about Christian Love.
1. Christian Love Comes From God
vv. 7-10 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins.
The source of our love is not ourselves, but God Himself. It says not only that love comes from God, but that He sent His Son into the world that we might live through him. As we experience his life we will naturally radiate His love for it says God IS love.
Not just that He has love or does love but that love is in fact defined by the nature of God. To live out that love we must first begin to grasp it. And when we grasp it we cannot help but live it out.
When we realize God loves us in spite of all we’ve done that doesn’t please Him, we’ll love others in spite of all they do that doesn’t please us. The Bible says God hates divorce—but if you’ve been through divorce, I want you to know God loves you. God is truth and He hates lies, but if you’ve lied God still loves you. If you’ve cruelly injured someone else with your words, God loves you. If you’ve cheated on your taxes, God loves you. If you’ve had an abortion, God loves you.
Because God is love nothing you’ve done could make him love you any less and nothing you could do could make him love you any more. If ever you doubt the depth of his love just think about the Love of Christ stretched out on a cross where he was nailed because he loved you so much he wanted to spend eternity with you.
The love of God that drove Him to offer His perfect Son is the love that as a Christian you are meant to have. You say, well I’m only human, I don’t have that kind of love. That’s right and that’s why this love can’t be a matter of a pastor’s guilt trip or a self help program, it has to be the real deal, flowing from Him, through you to the world around.
You see the Bible tells us love is the fruit of the life filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
ILLUSTRATION: How do you make an oak tree give apples? You can’t. A tree can only produce apples by being an apple tree. In the same way you can only produce Christian love by letting God’s love flow through you.
Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branches, remain in me and you will bear much fruit. The fruit of love only comes about as we press in closer to Him. And when that fruit is lacking it’s not time to try harder to love, but time to press in closer to Him, confess your lack of love and ask Him to grow love in you.
2. Christian Love Reflects God
vv. 11-13 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.