1 John 4 | The Way of Love

by | Feb 2, 2019

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:7

In Luke chapter 10, the parable of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer asked Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life”? Jesus responds “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer replied, and he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27. Jesus said he answered correctly! The lawyer then asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus goes and tells the parable of the man attacked by robbers. It was a Samaritan, not the priest or Levite that demonstrated how to be a neighbor by showing mercy.

How ironic that this disciple, known as the disciple Jesus loved, showed what it looks like to apply this law. John brings the connection of our relationship to God into question by using something as simple as loving one another (1 John 4: 8-12). I can think of many other things in Christianity one might say would constitute a redeemed life. Some that come to mind are 1. Quit sinning. 2. Give Tithes and Offerings. 3. Read the Bible. 4. Pray. 5. Attend Church. 6. Serve on a ministry team. 7. Feed the hungry. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good things we should aspire to make a part of our lives, but there is something unique and very Christ-like in extending love to one another. The next question is “What does love look like?” Let’s use Scripture to list the qualities of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Love is. . .

“…patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice in wrong doing, rejoices in the truth, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things and never ends.”

Jesus told us who our neighbor is (refer back to the Good Samaritan). Now John uniquely connects ‘loving God’ to ‘loving one another.’ We see love as vertical (loving God) and horizontal (loving one another). These two are not mutually exclusive, but simultaneously happen when we are in a proper relationship with Jesus. A good friend recently preached a sermon on the church and said, “You cannot love Christ and hate his church.” 1 John chapter 4 supports this! “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11. Jesus even went on to say that “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13. How much does Jesus love us? Look to the cross, and this is God’s love fully demonstrated. To quote probably the most common Bible verse, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

This year, I’ve been going through a devotional by Jerry Bridges called “Holiness Day by Day”. It’s my third time going through this devotional, but this time I’m dialoguing with a friend each morning which has been encouraging. Today’s read was about ‘law’ and ‘love.’ The last three paragraphs do a good job, to sum up the relationship between ‘law’ and ‘love.’

“But if we realize the moral law is a transcript—a written reproduction—of the moral character of God and that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), we see that we cannot distinguish between law and love. Both express the character of God. They’re two sides of the same coin. 

For example, Paul said in Romans 13:10, “love does no wrong to its neighbor” (NIV). If we didn’t also have the commandments (which Paul quoted in verse 9) against such things as adultery, stealing, and murder, how would we know what it means to harm one’s neighbor? 

Love provides the motive for obeying the commands of the law, but the law provides specific direction for exercising love.” (Excerpt is taken from Transforming Grace – Jerry Bridges).