Ears to Hear 1 John 4
The hardest thing you will ever do!
In this chapter there is much to unpack.Â Three times in this chapter alone, John reiterates that we are to love one another.Â Why?Â I think it is because the most difficult thing God asks us to do is to love.Â That sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. God commands us to obey, yet we areÂ a disobedient people. God asks us to sacrifice, yet we areÂ aÂ selfish people. Godâ€™s very nature is holy and loving,Â and we are made in that image, yet we are sinful and broken.
LoveÂ is a command to obey.Â According to Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 22 the greatest commandment and the second hinge on the act of love for God and people. If loveÂ wereÂ easy,Â would we be reminded over and over of its priority? Love is part of living a life that is real because God is love.Â Love does not define God, but God defines love. If love was removed from our lives, obedience, sacrifice, and even God Himself would be removed as well.
Love requires sacrificeÂ in order for itÂ to be real. Verse 20 provides evidence that loving others is hard to do.Â God does not need our love, but our brother does.Â God does notÂ tell us toÂ tolerate our brother.Â That is easy.Â Instead, the greatestÂ signÂ of love is a bloody cross. The greatest expression of Godâ€™s love in us is the daily taking up our cross, sacrificing self and loving the world as Jesus did.
Love is a lifestyle to be lived daily. It is not a â€œlive and let liveâ€ mentality; that is easy.Â Love requires work.Â When we are united to Him through faith in Christ,Â then we share His nature.Â ForÂ example, when hiking, I mightÂ use a map,Â but ultimately I navigate whichÂ way to go daily by using a compass to show directions.Â Why?Â BecauseÂ the compassÂ points north; it is tied to the earthâ€™s magnetic field,Â and the needle is responsive to the nature of the earth. If the nature of God is love, then the person who knows God and is born of God will respond to His nature.Â Follow the logic? Just as a compass naturally points north, we will naturally practice love if the nature of God is love.Â It wonâ€™t be a forced reaction, and it wonâ€™t be an emotion, rather it will be a natural proof.Â John says that love is the evidence that He lives in us.
God is love.Â This truth is revealed in the Word.Â It is demonstrated on the cross.Â And it is something that happens in us, as we become participants in Godâ€™s great love story. He breathesÂ His grace over us. His mercies reflect the great love He has for us.Â He forgives failures.Â He reveals Himself through the lives of His children! Imagine the wonder and privilege of that â€“ God abides in us! Amazing LoveÂ – how can it be?!