September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 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 4:7–12 (NIV)
Today, as we begin a multi-week examination of the fruits of the Spirit, we kick it off with a look at love!
Years ago, the band Foreigner released a song with lyrics that say, “I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. I want to feel what love is; I know you can show me.” Hidden beneath that unmistakable 80s pop rock sound, this song expresses a real, universal need humanity faces every day . . . the need to know and feel what love is.
Unfortunately, many people never do. Many waste so much time searching for love in all the wrong places. But the apostle John offers us good news . . . our search for the meaning and feeling of love is available to all of us because “GOD IS LOVE” (1 John 4:8 NIV, emphasis added) and because “THIS IS LOVE: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10 NIV, emphasis added).
If you want to know what love is, look to the cross. The love of God is demonstrated fully on the cross and made available to all because of the cross. Jesus is the answer to what love is, and He shows us what it looks like. It’s sacrificial, committed, and selfless—a beautiful servanthood toward another.
Likewise, as He shows us what love is, He commands us to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV), “for love comes from God” (1 John 4:7 NIV). He expects us to love others consistently, selflessly, and sacrificially (John 15:13). He gave the command and then He showed us how to do it!
And when we show love for one another, which is the result of Christ in us and of our following His example, not only do we prove that He lives in us and that we’re His disciples (John 13:35), but 1 John also says that the love of God will be made complete (or “perfected”) in us!
The word for “perfected” in the Greek describes a goal that’s reached, something that’s 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.
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 just like Jesus loves us. But here’s the thing: We’ll 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, 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. 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?
Pause: How are you showing the love of Jesus to the people around you today?
Practice: Pray for the love of Jesus to sweep over you and pour out unto others so His love may be complete in you.
Pray: Father, thank You for not only loving me so fully, completely, and deeply that You sent Your Son to save me, but also for showing me what love is and using me to show others how much You love them. I pray that each day I would grow in my love for You and that through that love, I would grow in my love for others. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at 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.