1 John 4:7-12 : Love
1 John 4:7-12 ESV 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have 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, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Let’s pray. Father, I believe it’s Paul who prays that we might have the strength in the inner man to be able to comprehend with all the saints, the height and depth and width and length of your love, that tells me a lot, Father, but one of the things that tells me is that no amount of preaching now can help your people to see that without your Holy Spirit. So we ask that your Holy Spirit would move and work through your word now. We ask this in your precious name.
Well, as has been our tradition for a few years now, we go through… We change the tradition a little bit, we cover four different themes during the Christmas season, this year we’re covering kind of a normal… For last year, we covered the four titles of Jesus Christ in Isaiah chapter 9, but this year we’re covering like a normal for that a lot of churches will look at, and that is peace, love, joy and hope.
And to do that, we symbolize by lighting a different candle each Sunday leading up to our Christmas Eve service, where we then like the central candle symbolizing obviously the Lord’s birth in this world, and then we have this awesome moment where each light our own candles by the candle of Jesus Christ.
So last week, we learned about the peace of God, actually for a few weeks in a row, we learned about the peace of God, we learn about the Shalom or the area of God, and how it surpasses all understanding and how God does offer a piece that is enduring and lasting in our lives today, internally, and he promises that one day that internal piece will become external, that is a hope for all of us. Today, we are going to learn about love, so that’s this candle over here, we’ve got peace and we’ve got love over here, and that’s where we’ll be, and I know that we talk often about love, it seems like particularly around the Christmas holiday season, we talk about love, if I were to have you raise your hands, how many of you have a decoration of Christmas decoration somewhere in your house that says the word love, anyone… Yeah, it’s a common word. Right, and there’s something about the very humanistic view of Christmas, even if you don’t believe in Jesus, most people view Christmas as a season for long, a season for family members to love one another, a season for people to be generous and be benevolent, give Charly to those who are in need around them, there’s something about Christmas that stirs up our understanding of love, it is definitely a season to think about how we treat other humans, but without the roots…Without the foundation, we have no reason to do so. Why would Christmas be a season that we should love others… Why should we love others at all? For what purpose? What good does it serve? I don’t know if there are any Friends fans out there, I know that there’s some… Probably not great stuff on that show. I’ve never been a huge fan of Friends, but I do know one episode in Friends… It’s an entire episode. One of the major themes is how Phoebe is trying to convince… I’m pretty sure it’s Chandler how… No one ever truly does something just out of the goodness of their heart, everything they do in their life is to get something out of it, and so you love someone else because maybe they’ll love you, you do good for someone because maybe they’ll do good for you, or at the very least, it’ll make you feel good, and that’s the argument, and honestly, that is not an uncommon view, when you really get down to it, the reason why many people do any love is because of what they hope to get out of it. Not purely out of the goodness of their heart, and frankly, if you are going to take a very normal view of this world, that’s absence of God, you start to look around and you ask the question, Why would I do good for anyone around me? What is my purpose? Why should I try for someone else when all that really matters in this world is what I can get out of it, so it’s a dog-eat-dog world, I’m gonna eat dogs, I’m gonna gobble them up, I’m gonna take advantage of whoever I can around me, my relationships if I’m not getting enough out of a friendship, I throw that friendship to the side, I get rid of it, and if I’m not getting something out of it and it’s not worth my time, that’s such a normal view of how people see love Christian theologians though, have the answer to this, the source of our understanding of love is found in the fact that God is love, He created this world, listen, He created this world to be saturated with love, for it to be the air that we breathe, we’re the ones…who screwed that up. It’s our sin, it’s our corruption in our own heart, that then makes its way out into our mouth, in our hands, that messes it up. He wanted a humanity to experience His love moment by moment with him, and then to join in that love toward one another, He wanted Adam and need to enjoy his love, and then to use his love to love one another, and for all all of it to be perfect. Christmas specifically is a season that commemorates how God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son in human flesh to pay the penalty for our sin. That’s what first John is about. And when you get the roots in that, your love for one another becomes a natural outflow and a command of God. So here’s your big idea Savor God’s Love, and Then Give It Away.
Savor God’s love, and Then Give It Away.
So we’re gonna start, we’re gonna do section by section, we’re gonna start in verse 7. Here, we love it. Let us love one another, for love is from God. That’s all it ever said. That would be enough. All
good things come from our God. That’s what First Timothy says?… I’m forgetting right now.
Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God, anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. Now if it weren’t in the Bible, I would get uncomfortable with that language, men, ’cause there’s a lot of people out there in the world that would say, Well, love is this giant enigmatic force, powerful force that holds the cosmos together. And essentially, they’re saying it’s God and then that’s kind of the god that they ended up worshipping, but here John is trying to make a really clear, important port that it is part of the essential nature of God, that He loves. It’s not something he does begrudgedly, it’s not something he does accidentally, it’s not something he feels like he has to do, so he does, it comes from his very heart, from the very fountainhead of His being. Love flows. Isn’t that amazing? He is love. Here’s how he says in a few different places, Isaiah 54, [Isaiah 54:10 ESV] 10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
That’s our God. Jeremiah 31-3 said, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you. How about that? How about who our God is in His love? I think it would be helpful for you to turn with me to John, keep your finger here in first job, We’ll come back to it. Just momentarily. Turn with me to John 17. John 17.
John 17-24-E. It’s actually this entire section that we probably need to read to meditate on. Let’s start in verse 21, that they all may be one. Just as you, Father, are in me, and I am you, that they also may be in us so that the world might believe that you have sent me. Verse 23, I Anthem you in me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me where I am to see my glory that you have given me. Before you love Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Oh, righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, I will continue to make it known that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I am.
So I have a question for you, this is gonna take a moment of philosophical thoughts, so just stay with me for a second. Is a leader a leader without followers?
Probably not, right? And we could argue all day long about it, Okay, now let me turn it a different way, ask it the same type of thing, can you love… Can you be a loving person without any relationships… See, the Bible makes this radical claim that the for the foundation of the world before it was all created, God the father, loved God the Son, with a perfect kind of love, they were united together in love, the Holy Spirit, the three of them in perfect union. Perfect relationship. Perfect affection. Perfect love. And even difference, it’s wonderful. Before the foundation of the world. When God made the world, did he make the world because he needed new relationships, new friends? No, he didn’t make the world because he was feeling really needy one day, he decided he needed a new friend, it’s not our God, our God was completely satisfied before the foundation of the world, in the relationship he had within the Godhead, one God, three persons in perfect unity in love with one another, God the Father, loving God the Son. The wonder of the creation of the world is that He and His goodness wanted to make something that would also join him in that same love.
You and I are what? Messed that up. So when it says God is love, what we’re talking about is an eternal love, yes, he demonstrated his love for us when it was… When we sent Jesus Christ to His sire, but His love, His essential nature of love, goes back, millennia goes back millions, billions of years. Trillions of years, quantrill ions of years, further and further and further back there, God the Father, God the Son, in love with one another, united with one another. Satisfied in their relationship with him. When it invites us to love one another, it is inviting us to that same kind of love, not just to like a corrupted kind of love, not a love that is unsatisfying, not a love that self-seeking and all that, no, it’s a love that is perfect, and it’s a love that we’re welcomed into… What
can separate us from the love of Christ? The love of Christ has been poured out in our hearts. Is demonstrated as love. That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So let’s keep going down in our passage in first job, the second section here, verse 9, In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world that we might through him. And this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. One of the essential qualities of God’s love for you and I is that he was willing to forgive… I’m going to say that again, because I think this is important. God doesn’t love you because you’re lovely, God loves you because He loves you, because He is love, He loves you in spite of your own loneliness, He loves you in spite of the many ways you’ve corrupted yourself and the lives of those around you Spieth many ways that you’ve been wicked. To what God has told you to do. He still loves, He still offers.
He says this, That God keeps steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. Psalm 25:7 talks about that. Love like this, Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions. According to your steadfast love, remember me for the sake of your goodness, O Lord. What is love?
I’ve given you the stuff finishing many times it is worth you writing down again, love is sacrificial, commitment and action for someone else is good, sacrificial commitment and action for someone else’s good, every single one of those words matters in the definition of love. They are all connected to the biblical view of God’s love and of the love we ought to have for one another. The first thing we see is that love is committed, love is committed.
There’s a quality of love that we often forget in our culture today, it’s probably the one area that our culture gets wrong about love, that is the underlying commitment to the person.
Think about the Old Testament, when it talks about God’s love. Do you know what the word actually means? You’ll have a different translations, loving kindness, you’ll have steadfast love, sometimes there’ll be different words for that, but there is… That word has an idea of a loving affection and seeking the good, but it also has this underlying idea of a promise, a commitment, one that will not be broken. We get this wrong, but I have found over and over and over again in my life, undeniably amount of times, that when I commit to a relationship, to a friendship, to a person to serve them for their good, no matter what, and I say, I will not leave them, it’s in that relationship that that person often flourishes. I’ve seen it time and time again, I’ve seen it with myself. There’s a phrase, this goes back to a guy by the name of director, by the name of Rosa Warner, who was a camp director of a camp named Bay Yuka that I was at growing up on and off, and then I was a counselor for multiple years. His catch phrase is that the Yuka should be a place where everyone is given time and room to grow, and what is underlying that is that we will be there with them through that process to love them, to care for…
We’re not calling it in. We’re not calling it quits. Love at its core is a commitment, a promise that can’t, shouldn’t to be broken, that is first, look at this passage here, he demonstrates what that love is, first of all, the love of God was made manifested among us. God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him. So we see then that there is a seeking of the other person is good. Do you see that? He sends His son for what purpose? So that we can live what would happen if you didn’t send his son a very good… We would die. That’s exactly right. We would die. And that’s an eternal death, it’s a spiritual death, and it is a death and hell, but he sent his son to seek our good, and that’s what love is, that sometimes love is not gonna just cuddle and encourage and support, sometimes love is going to sacrifice to seek someone’s good. Say a hard thing, be there with them, challenge them, not let them sit in their sins, and… They’re gonna lay down their life for the good of the other person. We’re seeking someone’s good.
That’s what love is. We see also, verse 10, and this is love, not that we’ve loved God, but He loved us and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Love initiates. We didn’t love God first. God loved us first. In fact, I would argue it is not love if you were waiting for the other person to love you, that is a vendor relationship. We’ll talk about that more in a minute. That’s a relationship where you’re only in it for what you can get out of it, and if they put a little bit into it, then I’ll put a little bit and do it. That’s not love. That’s treating that person like there’s somebody to be used for what they can give you, then you use me for what I can give you, and that’s how all of my relationships work. It’s not lunch. Love initiates, love says, regardless of what you do, regardless of your love, I will act for your good. What are the specific things I can do today? Tomorrow, the next day, it’s a love. Fourth, love helps. I would say sacrifices. Love sacrifices. Think about it for a second, if… Wouldn’t be sacrifice for God to save us. If it cost him a cow, would that be a sacrifice for God to save us? It would be sacrifice maybe for you or me, ’cause we’d have to buy the cow, sacrifice, the money, whatever, but is it a sacrifice for the God who can create cows? No. Would it be a sacrifice for God to save us if you had to save us yet in order to do what he had to make a billion cows that have been a sacrifice, you still know if it cost God a billion universes to save us. Would that have been a sacrifice… No, there was one thing that could be sacrificed for us, that was the relationship that he had with his son from all eternity.
Indeed, that’s what happened. They go to the cross. Jesus on the cross. What does he say? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? In the Bible, my understanding is that is the only time… Are one of the only times that Jesus does not refer to God the Father as father. In that moment, that relationship has been divided, the relationship of love and unity that he had from all eternity, in that moment on the cross, God is forsaken him, why? Because he’s taken on the sins of the world to bear you’re in my sin, and then the punishment that you deserve, you and I deserve for that sin, that sacrifice. There was one thing our God could sacrifice, and he did not withhold his only son. What more could he give? Than what he’s already given.
What more could you give? Some of you have never seen or been part of a relationship like this, but I wanna offer to you today a relationship like that… The Bible offers you today a relationship like that, God the Father sent God the Son to be the wrath removing sacrifice for your sin, so that you could be saved, so that you could be forgiven. You said that you could be loved, and then he offers that you come into a relationship with him, a loving relationship, that can never change. It’s not like Tomorrow, he’s gonna be grumpy with you, it’s not like Tomorrow, you’re gonna be less his child, more his child, if you do bad or good, not what it is, he’s inviting you to a relationship with him where he has initiated… He has sacrificed, he is working for your good, and he is filling you up. ’cause he loves you. Served us in this way. Some of you have never been part of a relationship like that… By faith in Jesus Christ today, you can have that relationship with God. How wonderful is that? Some of you have no idea what it’s like to have a relationship with others like that, you’ve never seen somebody sacrifice for you, you’ve only seen people use here, you’ve never seen somebody commit to you, you feel like people come and go.
These relationships aren’t fun. God wants better for us, and that’s this next section 11, Beloved, if God so loved us, are God loved us in this way, we ought also to love one another in what way? What do you mean? We ought to love one another. Well, Gladys, God calls you to sacrifice, God calls you to commit, God calls you to help. God calls you to initiate. That’s love. That’s Love.
Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say God calls you to do that if they’re lovable, ’cause God didn’t wait for you and I to be lovable. There’s a book out by Timothy Keller called The meaning of marriage that was very helpful in my understanding of love, biblical love, one of the things He brings out and there is the illustration of a vendor relationship. A vendor relationship. What is a vendor? Well, let’s say, I’ve got a basketball business and
I need rubber to make basketballs, and I need… I don’t know, we’ll just say, rubber to make basketballs, I need rubber to make basketballs, and I can get rubber from one vendor for 5D for a big gallon bucket. A good deal, right? I don’t know, probably, I don’t know. Now, let’s say I learn about a different vendor that’s got a better rubber, and he’s selling his… For 3, a five-gallon bucket. Does love keep me in this vendor relationship… No.
They’re a vendor. I don’t owe them anything. I’ll go where the best deal is, that’s part of the free economy, right. Pre-market, we have a mindset of, I need to get the best deal wherever I can get the most. For what I’m putting in the money that I’m putting in, most people treat relationships exactly like that, including you and I, on witty, most people are looking around for the relationships that they can invest the least and get the most, if I give you less and you give me more then it’s a good deal. So I’ll stay in that relationship, but as soon as you start to become a drain, as soon as you start to not give me anything back… Well, I’m done. And so we see this with marriages, right, we see marriages that say, Well, you know, they just weren’t making me happy anymore, so I went and found somebody who made me happy… What is that? That is a vendor relationship mindset, I’m gonna get a deal somewhere else, that’s how we treat friendships, this person is too much of a drain on me, they’re bothering me instead of loving and committing to their good.
Sacrificing to see that you can make it happen. I’ll move on, I’ll find different friends. And we treat so many of the relationships in our life like this, but that is not love. No, instead, Love is the type that says, I will not worry about what you give to me.
God filled me up enough, I don’t need you to fill me at all.
I don’t need anything from you, he’s giving me treasures and riches that you cannot give me, so I’m full, so I’ll just give. I’ll just give how it gives and God will refill me and I’ll give more and God will refill me. Now, here’s the beauty of that. This is the way we’re supposed to be. Now, here’s the beauty of that, if we are doing that with one another, if I do this with a friend and they do this with me, then both of us have our interests looked out for the moment, especially in a church with people who know what true love is what God’s love is the moment in a church where you start to think about your own interest, what you need, what you want, that’s the moment that you are not following your father who is love your father and following a different father, self rather… So this place with these people here, we sacrifice for one another’s good, we initiate, we reach out, we love, we care, we do everything we can for the other person’s good, and we keep after it. That’s what we do, that’s what God calls you to do.
So keep doing it. And don’t give up. That’s true. Love says, No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. What does that mean? Why does he suddenly say, no one has ever seen God. Why…’cause what you’re saying there is that if you love others with that kind of love and people see God, that’s what he’s saying.
I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice. By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. This is not a call to imitate merely imitate God’s law, it is that. This is a call for God’s love to fill you so much that you can pour it out on others, it’s called to become gospel-saturated, spirit let and passionately in love with God, so that you have everything you need to give to all those around you.
There will be times when people take advantage of this and use you, and we’ll try to drain every last last ounce from you that they can even… That’s a real thing. The good news is that God’s steadfast love and His mercies are new every morning. Every time you need it, He fills you again. This is how Christianity is the best way to live. Without knowing God’s love, we would all have vendor relationships, we would all be worrying about me first, and nothing makes you less interesting, and to worry about yourself, Nothing ruins relationships faster than to focus on and true love commits sacrifices. Ignoring what you get out of it. So how can you do this? Number one, Jude 21, JU 121, keep yourselves in the love of God, keep yourselves in the love of God.
Ephesians Chapter 3, with all the saints that you would comprehend, the limits of God’s love that surpass all understanding, and then right out of that verse, you read it later, sometimes the chapter breaks mess us up. Read it later, this is Ephesians 3, at the end of the chapter, that you would comprehend the love of God that surpasses old knowledge. Then what does he immediately go into in chapter four, it’s not a break in thought, chapter four is about unity and love for one another.
Our lives are not a reservoir to store God’s love, they are a pipe that God’s love pours through and we pour it out to others. I challenge you to trust in that love for yourself and let it change you, you’ve never done that today, and I challenge you, I plead with you, in a season that’s stressful, we’ve talked about this often the last handful of weeks in the season, that’s stressful for all of us on top of covid, it’s Christmas. I don’t know which one is more stressful sometimes, everything that’s happening in your life, the frustrations you face this year, and recently, all of that, you have a temptation to think about me… I challenge you to repent. Challenge you to focus on God’s love. I challenge you to love others. Let’s pray. And we’re gonna close with a song here in a moment. Bowyer heads. Close your eyes. Just quiet your hearts for a moment. If you’ve never believed in Jesus Christ…. trusted him for your salvation. To give you the right to be called God’s child. To be called dearly loved by God. So talk to God now. Tell Him you believe. Confess your sins. And if you are, I need God’s help to love others today. It always, it always starts with confessing your frailty, your weakness, you’re saying your wickedness, your failures… That’s amazing how quickly God meets you there, fills you, reminds you and pours out His love in your heart, gives you what you need to love others, so do that now. Would you stand with me as we sing this closing song?