We can grow in love, but first, we need the seed of love. The Apostle John writes in his epistles about love. Tons! It is what he says about it that makes it interesting. Some Christ followers hear the command “love one another” like they have to do. The key phrase is “have to” or “supposed to” or “should” do. While those verses are in his letter, that is not his point, nor is it the Holy Spirit’s breath of life on us.
1 John 4:11 (NIV84)
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
We get caught in the ought. The Greek definition is “oweing something to someone.” Some are saying, ” see, you are proving my belief.” “It is our duty.” We talk about loving others as a duty in the same sense as taking the trash out or cleaning the bathroom. Maybe that is over the top, but you get my point. Loving people, especially the family of God, is not our “duty.” It is so much more!
First, we have to see something about this verse, the word since. The Greek is better translated as “if.” If God loved us, we… There is the seed. It is God’s love towards us and His love in us.
1 John 4:8 (NIV84)
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
There it is. God’s love is the precursor to our love. Are you getting this? The more you understand the love of God and apply it to your life, the more of a lover of your “brother” you will be. It is God’s love in us that propels us to love others. Then why put a “should” in reference to loving others?
1 John 3:11 (NIV84)
11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
This connotes it is our choice. The subjunctive mood means there is a decision to be made. There is a dependence on us to love. However, we love out of our reliance on the love of God. By the looks of so many in the church, we need to teach on the love of God and have a Jesus come to meetin’ time. More on that in another blog. We get to choose to love! Wonderful!
1 John 3:1 (NIV84)
1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
“He loves us, Oh how He loves us…”
We say that God is our Father. He is! We say that the Spirit of God lives in us. He does. If the Father is love and certainly we can agree that Jesus loved people, then it is natural that we love people. The Spirit of God lives in us. It is the natural flow of God in and through us to love people. Is it still a choice? Sure it is. That is a beautiful thing. The marvelous thing is that I naturally am a lover and so are you. When you don’t love, you work against your nature inherited from your Father in heaven. Why does the Spirit say that we ought to love? He knows your natural proclivity is to love, but He also knows that it is easy to act your past and act like this world. I propose that we begin to look at loving others like it is our privilege and honor. The love we give is an extension of God in this world. We get to love people and when we do, we will feel normal. The person we love, well, they will feel loved. Oh, the hope that love brings!
~ Pastor Terry