Summary: If only one word could be used to describe you or your church, what would it be? As believers, many Christian attributes come to mind, but love would rank at the top. The world needs to see a church defined by love.
Defined and Delivered in Love
1 John 4: 7-10
Our text this evening again deals with the continuing theme of love John has presented throughout this epistle. In fact, the remaining verses of this chapter deal with love. John was originally known as one of the “sons of thunder,” but through an intimate relationship with Christ, he had experienced the gracious love of God and developed a compassionate love for others.
No doubt we have all experienced love, but real love, genuine love cannot be defined by the world’s standards. Much that is expressed or thought of today as love does not represent love as God intends. In fact we will discuss the source of love in a moment. Genuine love fits within the biblical standard for love.
"Someone has asked “What is love” and then gave the following answer:
It is silence--when your words would hurt.
It is patience--when your neighbor's curt.
It is deafness--when a scandal flows.
It is thoughtfulness--for other's woes.
It is promptness--when stern duty calls.
It is courage--when misfortune falls." (i)
As we consider our text this evening, I want to examine the evidences of love John reveals as we think on: Defined and Delivered in Love.
I. The Exhortation to Love (7-8) – Here we discover an exhortation to love one another. John doesn’t offer this exhortation simply because it is socially acceptable, but biblically expected. Notice:
A. The Submission in Love (7a) – Beloved, let us love one another: That in itself is a simple statement, but it bears our attention. I thought of leaving this point until last so we would have a deeper understanding of what is expected of us concerning love. As we move through these verses, keep in mind we are expected to love one another.
As the children of God, we are expected to love one another. (I have met some who claimed Christ as their Savior who apparently didn’t get the memo.) John doesn’t say love when we feel like it, or when we think it is deserved. He doesn’t say love those who agree with our position always. He doesn’t ask us to love only those within our circle of influence. We are to love one another. I am convinced this applies to our love for all people, especially those within the body of Christ. Jesus revealed this was the second great command: love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Surely you would agree we need to show love to one another!
B. The Source of Love (7b) – for love is of God. This is something the average biblical student knows, but do we fully comprehend its depth. Love is of God. Love is one of the great character traits of God. It reveals part of His very essence. He possesses love and offers that love to those He will. Since God possesses love, and is the distributor of love, we can rightly discern that one cannot truly love apart from a right relationship with God.
Much that is considered and displayed by this world is not love at all, at least in a biblical sense. We wonder why our world is in the shape it is today. Why is there so much violence and neglect? Why is there no compassion or generosity? It is simple: many lack genuine love.
Let’s go a bit further. Why is there so much turmoil and division in so many church congregations today? The answer remains the same: a lack of genuine love. We cannot love as God would have us too and carry bitterness or anger toward our brother. We cannot love as God does and have a self-consumed, self-righteous attitude. Genuine love would solve the majority of problems we encounter today!
C. The Significance of Love (7c) – and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. John reveals one of the characteristics possessed by believers: the presence of love. Those who love as God would have us to is born of Him and knows Him. Our love for one another is a genuine mark of salvation.
Really this should come as no surprise. When we are born again in Christ, reconciled to God through Him, we become a new creature. The anger and hatred of the past is replaced with the love and compassion of God. Love revealed from someone is just an outward manifestation of the inward change wrought thorough salvation. Christians will be known and recognized for their love for one another. That love stands as a genuine testimony of one’s conversion. We are simply reflecting the attributes of our Father and Savior. 1 Peter 1:22 – Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: