Monday, February 14, 2011

Beloved, Let Us Love

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. I John 4:21

I thought Valentine's Day would be a good time to reflect on what it means for us to love one another.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
I John 4:11

God, through John's writing, has a lot to tell us on the subject about what it means to love one another, and why it is that we are to love one another. (Of course, elsewhere in the Bible we are directed plainly as well; there is just a lot of concentrated exhortation in 1 John that we will look at today.)

We love, because He first loved us. I John 4:19

God loved us first. Before we even came into being, He chose us. That amazing love poured into us by the Holy Spirit enables us to love others.

How do we know He loves us?

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. I John 3:16

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. He humbly went to the cross to pay for our sin. In the same way, we are to lay down our lives for our brothers. It is unlikely that you or I will ever have the opportunity to literally lay down our life - we won't be called to die for another person. However, we are called to serve one another selflessly, which is what I believe John is asking us to do. Paul also instructs us in what it means to lay down our life in love for one another:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

It's very easy to read those words; but I can tell you from personal experience that it is very difficult to live them out. As sinners, we are born selfish. It is only possible through the help of the Holy Spirit and the sanctifying work of Christ to be transformed into someone who loves by putting others first. John also reminds us that love goes beyond words, and is practiced in works.

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. I John 3:18

It's easy to love with words. It's much more difficult to love in deed. But love is truly shown in how we treat each other, not in what we say. Our love for one another is a sign of who we are and Who we know. Our love for one another shows the world that we are His, and that we know Him.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. I John 4:7

I want to love in such a way that unbelievers come to know the love of God through His outpouring of love through me. Join me today in loving others because of what God has done for you.

Beloved, Let Us Love
Words by Horatius Bonar

Beloved, let us love: love is of God;
In God alone hath love its true abode.

Beloved, let us love: for they who love,
They only, are His sons, born from above.

Beloved, let us love: for love is rest,
And he who loveth not abides unblest.

Beloved, let us love: for love is light,
And he who loveth not dwelleth in night.

Beloved, let us love: for only thus
Shall we behold that God who loveth us.

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