Part 9 of Authentic, a series on 1 John
Text: 1 John 4:7-21
You can listen to this sermon here.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (v. 11).
Is there a project that's been on your to-do list for a long time? Many times, there are things we should do that we lack inspiration to do. Loving others (i.e., giving of ourselves to help others) is something we know Christians should do. John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another” (v. 7).
Love is not an option for a follower of Jesus. Jesus himself said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Our default setting is self-centeredness. We’re naturally more concerned with how other people can help us than how we can help other people. How can we have more love for others?
God’s love provides the inspiration to love others.
God's Love Revealed
John writes that “love is from God” (v. 7). If we want to know what love really is, we should look at what God has done for us. Verses 10 begins with the words “In this is love.” (The NLT says, “This is real love.”) John also states that “God is love” (v. 8). That’s who he is. God is continually showing love to others. The death of Jesus was a public demonstration of God’s love for us: “The love of God was made manifest among us” (v. 9).
God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us.
John emphasizes the depth of God’s love by stating that “God sent his only Son into the world” (v. 9) and that God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (v. 10).
God’s “only Son” was sent into the world “so that we might live through him” (v. 9). The Greek word for “only” is monogenes. It’s found nine times in the NT. The word is used to described the widow of Nain’s “only son” (Luke 7:12; cf. 8:42; 9:38; Heb. 11:17). Colin Kruse writes, “In each of these cases the expression is used to add poignancy to a story by highlighting that it was the person’s ‘one and only’ child who was in dire need, threatened, or had died” (The Letters of John, 158-59). The word is found four times in the Gospel of John to describe Jesus, including 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (cf. John 1:14, 18; 3:18).
The Greek word for “propitiation” is hilasmos. In the NT, it’s found only twice—both times in 1 John (2:2; 4:10). In paganism, a propitiation was a sacrifice that appeased the wrath of a god. Christian propitiation is different. God is the one who provided the propitiation: his only Son. And God did not force his Son to die for us. Jesus willingly died: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (3:16.)
Inspired by God's Love
Fear is not the right motivation to obey God’s command to love others. “Whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (v. 18). “Perfection in love here involves a love for God which is based upon our sense of God’s love for us, and this love relationship is what removes our fear as we face the day of judgement” (Kruse, 168-69). “There is no fear in love, but [God’s] perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment” (v. 18).
Love is the right motivation to obey God’s command to love others. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). John writes, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11). He also states, “We love because he first loved us” (v. 19).
When we realize how much God loves us, we are inspired to please him by loving others.
Did you know that every Christian should be a preacher? If you’re a Christian, you should preach daily to at least one person: yourself. We must daily preach to ourselves the gospel.
When it’s difficult to give of ourselves to others, we need to remind ourselves that God loved us so much that he gave his only Son to die for us.