1 John 4 - God IS love
During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
A chapter mainly concerned with love as God’s nature starts with John saying “Test the spirits.” He is not encouraging an attitude of suspicion but instead a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. In 2 Cor 5:16-17 Paul makes the same point: we need the help of the Spirit to truly listen to people. Only then can we perceive unseen things (2 Cor:18).
These first six verses also give us a glimpse of the way God behaves - the Holy Spirit is at work bringing honour and attention to Jesus.
From verse 7 we have the key theme of John’s life. Love comes from God. Anyone who is really loving is like God and conversely if we do not love we are opposed to God.
Verse 10 keeps the focus on Jesus and we find God’s love takes the initiative. If we want to see love in action we look at the Cross where He died for us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:6-8). The obvious next step is that if God loved us we must love one another.
Not just because He commands it. Loving others is the natural consequence of abiding/remaining in Him. As in John 15 we are called to be fruitful by remaining in Him, developing our friendship with Him. We can bear the fruit of love.
And loving one another also reveals God to us. In verse 12 John says “no one has ever seen God,” linking with John 1:18 and chapter 14 (“How can we know the way?”). See also Colossians 1/Hebrews 1 (Jesus is “the image of the unseen God”). When we live in God’s love, His presence is made real to us - we meet Jesus in one another as we love one another!
In verses 8 and 16 John states “God is love.” This is the nearest we can get to a definition of God. Love is His nature. It is the essence of who God is.
Note John does not say “Love is God!” But he is clear that God is love - His nature is love and His character demonstrates love. Most of all we see it at the Cross.
When we abide/remain in Jesus we experience that love and it makes us secure - verse18 explains that God’s love at work in us means we have no fear of judgment. In fact we can invite God’s judgment now and repent so we become more like Him. “Perfect love casts out fear.”
This leads us to verse 19 - we love because He first loved us. It is only because of God’s love at work in us that we can love others.
But the good news is that when we invite His love and His presence we find we can love others.
3. Pray and act
Father, thank you for your love. Reveal more of Your love to us so that we can rest secure in You and love others.