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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."—1 John 4:11-12 (NIV)
I’m not a big fan of puzzles. I don’t really have the patience for them. I do; however, like the idea of them. All these little pieces coming together to make a complete picture. Every piece is necessary—otherwise, the image won’t be complete.
Today’s passage reveals something so powerful, beautiful, amazing, and at the same time, challenging and sometimes inconvenient to me: In order for the love of God to be made complete in me, I must love others. And not a surface-level love. In order for the love of God to be perfected in me, the love I love others with must reflect 1 John 3:16 (NIV), which says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
The word for “perfected” in the Greek describes a goal that is reached, something that is fully accomplished and finished to perfection. It’s complete and whole in every aspect. Like when you finish a puzzle or unlock all the achievements and finish all the side quests in a video game. For the believer, this means embodying true, genuine, sacrificial, agape love for one another.
John tells us that no one has ever seen God but if we love one another like Jesus loved us, then they will see Him who lives in us through us, just as Jesus said to Phillip in John 14:9 (NIV) when He said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
All throughout this letter, John hammers this simple truth home with the subtlety of a bull in a China shop. He explains in detail how Christ loves us, and then he tells us to love others like just like Jesus loves us. This verse simply emphasizes the point that we will never be able to live in the fullness of all that God has for us if we don’t genuinely love others. We’ll be cutting ourselves off and limiting our capacity to experience all of His promises and the complete abundance of life Christ came to give us.
So, friends and fellow believers, love one another! I believe John has given us a great litmus test for our maturity of faith, our obedience, and the condition of our heart here. If we don’t do this, we’ll never finish the puzzle. Even though He has given us His love completely, if we don’t love others as He loves us, the love He poured out cannot be complete in us. So, how are you loving?
DIG: Can you think of an example of someone who loves the way John is describing?
DISCOVER: What are you doing today to actively love like Jesus?
DO: Pray for the love of Jesus to sweep over you and pour out unto others so that His love may be complete in you.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.