1 John 4:7-12
remember your first love? Do you remember the first person that made you feel
warm and fuzzy inside, the first person that held your hand on the playground
during recess? I remember mine, her name was Loni Eisenberg and I was in
kindergarten. She had blond hair, blue eyes, could do a death drop off the top of
the monkey bars, and she would tie my shoes. I’ll admit I was smitten.
hope you understand that as a 5 year old I didn’t set out looking for love. I
mean I was a pretty normal little boy interested in frogs, bicycles, and playing
marbles. Girls were not on my radar. But one day Loni said she wanted to be my
girlfriend, play marbles, and eat lunch at my table. She asked and I said yes.
rest of the school year we were a couple. We ate together, played soccer and
kickball on the playground, and pushed each other on the swings. You see being
wanted is a powerful feeling. It’s easier to forgive when you feel forgiven,
it’s easier to share when you understand how deeply you’ve been blessed, and
it’s easier to love when you feel loved.
the greatest things about our text this morning is that John is not only
telling the first church that we are loved by God, but John is telling you this
morning that God loves you. He says that God wants you and He has done more
than just said He loved you, He proved it. Look back at verse 10 where John
writes Love consists in this: not that we
loved God, but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation
(or payment) for our sins.
wonder if we really believe that. If we really believe that God loves us. I
understand that since you are here this morning you would say that you know God
loves you and that you love God. But I
wonder if our lives would say that same thing.
just like that little kindergarten boy on the playground, believing that you
are loved makes a difference in your life. This morning I want to share with
you four ideas I have about how our lives will show if we deeply believe that
we were loved first.
First, If we know we are loved then we will know God
and let God know us.
Corinthians 8:3 Paul writes to us that The
man who loves God is known by God. How well would you say that you know God
this morning? How do you perceive Him? In your mind what is He like?
In the Bible a lot of
times the word “Know”, or γιν?σκω (gin?sk?) in the Greek, has the idea of intimacy. Knowing God goes a lot deeper than
having a surface knowledge that He exisits. It is deeper than knowing a couple
stores of the things that He has done. It’s having a close relationship with
God. One where we allow that relationship to mold the way that we think and
live. Paul says if we love God, truly love Him, we will have a deep and abiding
relationship with Him.
cannot have a deep relationship with someone that you only think about or see 1
to 3 hours a week. If you don’t spend time with God in prayer every day, if you
don’t spend time meditating on His word every day then Paul says you don’t love
God because you are not intimate with Him.
Maybe for some of us the problem is that since
God is described as our Father, we have the same picture of God that we have of
our dads. That’s why if your dad that was a strong disciplinarian you see God
as a strong disciplinarian. Or if your dad was kind and tender and gentle, then
you see God like that. Or if your dad was not there at all, then you see God as
missing as well.
pages of the Old Testament we see this cycle where the people would be in love
with God and they were blessed. Then they would go looking for other gods and
Jehovah would get their attention by allowing someone come in and make them
slaves. Finally they would call out to God and He would save them.
a safe or saved relationship with God, He was distant from them. They had to go
through Judges, prophets, and priests to contact God. That distance from God is
why a lot of times when we look through the pages of the Old Testament we see
the Israelites looking toward heaven, saying, "Where is God? Does God
care? Does God know our pain? Is God grieved when our nation suffers?" They
had their own perception of God, which was a God of wrath and judgment.
all changes in the pages of the New Testament when God became man and walked
among us. When He walked on the earth we got an up close look at who He really is,
what kind of nature He has. The picture went from a distant God to a God of
love, a God of forgiveness, a God who was concerned and compassionate about
people on the streets. You didn’t have to hold high rank. You didn’t have to be
someone special to gain audience with Him. They saw a God who cared about
not changed; we just got a fuller picture of His character. It’s like how I saw
my dad growing up. My dad was a strong disciplinarian, and there was no doubt
in my mind what was right and what was wrong. I knew if I didn’t do what was
right, I suffered the consequences. No grey, just black and white.
when I was 10 years old, my picture of dad changed. His youngest sister, my
aunt Paulette, was killed by a drunk driver. She was in ICU for 9 days before
she passed away. It was during those 9 days that I saw a different side to my
dad. It was the first time I ever saw him cry; it was the first time that I
ever saw him need someone else to help him. It changed the way that I saw him;
I saw a different side that I had never seen before.
what happened when Jesus came into the world. We saw a fuller picture of God,
we saw Him as a servant. We saw God becoming weak, God yielding Himself to the
powers of humanity. We saw God allowing them to drive nails into His hands and
His feet. In Jesus we get a whole different image of God.
we truly love Him, He will know us and we will have an intimate relationship
If we know we are loved then we will
John 2:5 we read that If anyone obeys His
word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in
Him. I believe that two simple
but wonderful things happen when we become His children. The first thing is
that we enter a saved relationship with God. God forgives us, and we stand
before Him righteous, because the precious blood of Jesus covers our sin.
second thing that happens is that God loves us in a very special way. While we
were loved before; now we’re loved in a different way. First God loved us as a
Creator loves His creation. God loves everyone and everything He created. But
through our baptisms that love changed; no longer are we loved as creation, now
we are loved as children. And that love is beyond our understanding.
when we realize the scope of His love, we’re moved to return His love. And we
want to do the things that please Him. Another word for that attitude is obedience.
1 Samuel 15:22 says To obey is
better than sacrifice. While we often talk about sacrificing our time,
talents, and treasures to God; according to the prophet Samuel while God
delights in our sacrifices obedience is better. It’s like saying a pecan pie is
good, but a chocolate chip pecan pie is better.
I once read the story of an Elder who was trying to explain to a doctor
the meaning and importance of giving his life completely over to God. The
doctor was one of those folks who merely wanted to go to church and warm the
pew and the Elder was trying to use his considerable talents to serve God. But
the doctor balked at the idea. He liked how he was living. He figured God would
overlook his desire to live his life his own way.
During the course of the conversation, the Elder said to him, Suppose
patient asked you to take charge of her case but refused to tell you all her
symptoms, or to take all your prescriptions. She might say to you, ’I am
willing to follow your directions when they seem sensible to me; but if they
don’t, I will use my own judgment.’ What would you do in such a case?
Do! was the indignant reply. I would refuse to accept her as a patient.
I could do nothing for her unless she put her whole case into my hands and
obeyed my directions implicitly.
Then obedience to the doctor’s orders is essential if the patient wants
to be cured! asked the Elder.
Absolutely! snapped the Doctor.
And that’s exactly what God wants from you. God must have your whole
life put in his hands without any reservations and His directions must be
There are people who go to church regularly who either don’t understand
that concept, or maybe they don’t care. They’ll sing in church on Sunday and curse
like a sailor on Monday. They’ll come to Bible study on Wednesday and spread
malicious gossip on Thursday.
That’s not obedience, and we need to remember that obedience is at the
very heart of our relationship with God. We can’t have a healthy connection to
our Father if we have a disobedient heart.
If we know we are loved then we can
love the brethren.
4:11 says, 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. This
idea of loving one another is so important to John he emphasizes over and over
again. Actually in this short letter he mentions it 4 times.
to make sure that we understand that if we love God we will love each other. If
we’re going around saying that we love Him and we don’t love each other, then
we’re liars. We’re walking in darkness, and we’re blind because we aren’t
telling the truth.
Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, "I
pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of
them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." John
love creates unity. Think of the oneness that existed between the Father and the
Son. There is never a hint of divisiveness, jealousy, or competition. They are
one, and they always seek to give glory to one another. I mean they’re so united
that we have a hard time explaining their difference. And God wants His people
to be just as united.
Carlos Ortiz says that true Christian unity is "mashed potato love,"
and he illustrates it this way, If you go out to the potato patch and dig up
all the potatoes you can package them anyway you want but they’re still individual
potatoes. If you go to the Grocery store and buy a bag of potatoes, take
them home, peel them, and put them in the cooking pot they are closer
together, but they’re still individual potatoes. It’s not until you blend them and
mix them together that they really become one and stick together.
in a world that does not like your relationship with God or His church. The
world tells us to look out for ourselves, and step on who every you have to so
that you can get everything you deserve. But God is different; He says that the
greatest is the one who is willing to serve.
He says that if we really love Him, we will love one another.
When we know we are loved then we
will abide in Him.
4:15-16 says If anyone acknowledges that
Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in Him and he in God. And so we know and rely
on the love that God has for us. This is not the first time that John has
written something like this. You may remember in his Gospel that he recorded
the words of Jesus when He said, "I
am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, will bear
in Christ is so much more that offering an occasional prayer. It is much deeper
than a complimentary visit to church once or twice a month. Abiding with Christ
means that we live with Him and allow Him to live in us. This goes back to the
intimacy that we talked about earlier. I have a much deeper relationship with
the folks that I live with. I know their habits and quirks and they know mine.
says if I abide in God, and God lives in me, then I’m a branch receiving life
from the vine. The vine supplies all the nutrients I need to grow and produce
fruit, because life comes from the vine. And not just life, but abundant life
overflowing with the joy, peace, and mercy that comes from a loving and
is an old legend about a wealthy merchant of the First Century who wanted to
meet the Apostle Paul. He petitioned Timothy to arranged a visit so that he
could see Paul who, at that time, was a prisoner in Rome.
inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man,
physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They
talked for hours. Finally the merchant left with Paul’s blessing.
the prison, he asked Timothy, What is the secret of his serenity and power? I
have never seen anything like it before. Did you not guess? replied Timothy.
Paul is in love.
merchant looked bewildered. In love? Yes, Timothy answered, Paul is in love
with Jesus Christ. The merchant looked even more bewildered. Is that all?
Smiling, Timothy replied, Sir that is everything.
offer God’s invitation this morning.
Questions to Consider
Read 1 John 4:7-21
Why is it important that we lavish devotion on one another?
What is the source of our love? (Where did the concept
of love come from?)
What does the cross demonstrate about God’s love?
How do you feel love expressed to you?
How do you express your love to others?
What type of person is the easiest to love?
I want you to think about someone who may be hard to love. What is it about them that makes it so hard
to love them?
Look at verse 11. What is our only reason we have for loving? Does that
even mean those who are hard to love?
In verse 19 John says “if you say you love God but hate
your brother you are a liar.” Why do you believe that’s so?
Is the love we are called to have for one another an
action of feeling?
So how should you love?
How does our love for one another make an invisible God visible?