Summary: John's words inspire us to embrace and practice God's love. This is how we know we are His!
7 Beloved, let us love one another (in deed and truth), for love (in deed and truth) is from God; and everyone who loves (in deed and truth) is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love (in deed and truth) does not know God, for God is love (in deed and truth). 9By this the love of God (in deed and truth) was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love (in deed and truth), not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us (in deed and truth), we also ought to love one another (in deed and truth). 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another (in deed and truth), God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
14We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us (in deed and truth). God is love (in deed and truth), and the one who abides in love (in deed and truth) abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this love (in deed and truth) is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
18There is no fear in love; but perfect love (in deed and truth) casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love (in deed and truth), because He first loved us (in deed and truth). 20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother (in deed and truth) whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also (in deed and truth).
I grew up with parents who had lived through the depression. They had worked hard to save before they could buy anything. Credit was still a new concept and debt was considered dangerous. My parents also thought the Beatles were, as my mom put it, wild boys whose mothers didn’t raise them right. As I grew up I don’t ever remember hearing my dad tell me that he loved me. Mom didn’t tell us those words much either. But I knew without a doubt that they did love me and my brothers and sister. They didn’t have to say it, they demonstrated it clearly to us over and over through dedication, service, discipline, and instruction. The love I experienced from Mom and Dad was love in deed and in truth.
I think it was sometime in the 1970’s when Olivia Newton John recorded one of her first hit songs that echoed the thinking of the changing times. She sang, “I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, I’m not trying to make you anything at all, but this feeling doesn’t come along every day, and you shouldn’t blow the chance, when you’ve got the chance to say… love you, I honestly love you, I honestly love you.”
It was erotic love, sensual love that she was obviously talking about. “This feeling doesn’t come along every day…” “This feeling…” Hmmmm. If my mom and dad had depended on their feelings to generate the deeds and truth kind of love they demonstrated to me and my brothers and sisters… well, life would certainly have been a lot different!
When the Word of God speaks about love, it’s not talking about “this feeling that doesn’t come along every day that you don’t want to blow the chance to say.” It’s not talking about an erotic, sensual, fleshly concept at all. There are words for those things in the Bible, but more often than not, those feeling kinds of words are used to describe an unstable, shallow and self serving sort of experience that comes and goes with the mood swings of life. That “feeling” doesn’t come along every day. In fact, it hardly lasts very long at all. And at times, with some people, it is altogether nonexistent! It’s nice, but it’s fleeting too. That’s not the love we read about here in 1 John.