Friday, August 28, 2009

1 John 4:17-21

V17-21 – 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19We love because He first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John continues on the theme of loving one another in light of the fact that we live in God and have Him living in us by the Holy Spirit. Knowing and relying on God’s love (v16) by loving others is the way in which we gain confidence and assurance of salvation for the coming Judgment Day (v17). When we act like Jesus as a result of an inner transformation by the Holy Spirit, we can be reassured that we have peace with God. There is no need to fear, because love reigns in our lives. On the other hand, if we understand what John is saying and realize that we are afraid, it may very well be because we have not exhibited the love of God toward others that we know we should. Though we do well to note that perfected love casts out fear progressively, not all at once. John is teaching us that true love to God is always accompanied by love to our Christian brothers and sisters. The later tests and proves the former. When John says in v19, “We love because He first loved us,” he is saying that our actions toward others in selfless love prove that His love has first transformed us through faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Beginning in v20, John gives illustration to this truth. To profess love for God and yet to hate a fellow Christian (as seen by unloving action or unloving non-action) proves hypocrisy. John would call one who exhibits unloving behavior, or one who fails to exhibit loving behavior, a liar. This loving behavior is not easy to exhibit sometimes, especially with those we know best. But it’s a commitment, not a feeling. And it must be done. In the second half of v20, John declares that it is impossible to truly love the invisible God without loving the visible brothers and sisters in Christ in our lives. One preacher says, “Love for God expresses itself in a loving concern for fellow Christians, and a lack of such a love proves a lack of love to God.”

Finally, in v21, we have a command. It’s a command to double-love. And it’s essentially Jesus’ response when He was asked about the greatest command. Do you remember His answer? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. That’s what John says here, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” If you claim to obey the first part of what Jesus said, then you must obey the second part; for they are inseparable.

No comments: