“Beloved, Let Us Love One Another”
(I John 4:7-21)

Introduction. The Apostle John has a beautiful way of stating profound truths in very simple ways. E.g. Students of NT Greek don’t start with Romans or Hebrews, or even Matthew but John’s writings. John (through the Holy Spirit) emphasizes love as a quality of God and at the center of Christian character. [Note: the word itself is used 57 times in John’s writings: 96 Paul (or 99 if you consider the book of Hebrews); which tells us that Paul is no callused theologian]. Tonight we will focus on one section of one of John’s texts to consider in depth what he would teach us about love.

I. Argument: Christians must Love Others (I John 4:7-11). Begins with something common to John, not to us: “Beloved” We use this use only in weddings or Valentines Cards. The word is from agape - Literally “Loved Ones” John demonstrates in words what he teaches - love one another! Why make this argument? Don’t people love others naturally?

  • Friends -- Yes, but not when betray us.
  • Family -- Yes, but not when they disappoint us.
  • Mates -- Yes, but not when they don’t please us.
  • Countrymen -- Yes, but not when they are treacherous.
  • John through the Holy Spirit is addressing a different type of love. (cf. John 15:9-14 - 1. As Father loved; 2. ). Keep commandments; 3.) Lay down life; 4. ) Keep commands.
         This type of love determines our fellowship with God. Note: (I John 4;7b) Those with this love are 1.) Born of God; 2.) Know God --- Those who don’t -- Don’t know God (I John 4:8).
    This is a different type of Love as shown by God’s example of Love: (I John 4:9,10). Note: This is love towards an object that does not return love! “Not that we loved God” (cf. Romans 5:6-8).
    Illustration: Devotion - An example of Ugaritic literature describes devotion, “Like the heart of a cow for her calf, like the heart of a ewe for her lamb, so’ s the heart of Aath for Baal” (H. L. Ginsberg). Baal and Mot 1.6: II:28-30. A calf nor a lamb does not return love to its mother. Even so, the mother is devoted to its offspring.

         • The focus of John’s argument: God’s love is why we should love one another (I John 4:11).

    II. Blessings & Consequences of Demonstrating this Kind of Love.

    1. It allows us to See God (vs. 12). We see Him in us.
      Illustration: Spreading Love Around - The story is told of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere that he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. Everywhere he went he oiled the rough, rusty and hard places he encountered making it easier for those who came after him to travel. Many thought that the man was eccentric, odd and a little “off” to act in this way, but he continued doing just as he had always done. He never waited until he found a place that needed oil to then go home and get his oil can. He kept it constantly filled and was always ready to use it.
           Everyday we pass by people that are worn, rusted and “creaking” from the pains of life and the damage of sin. As we pass them by we are ever presented with opportunities in which a word well spoken, a good deed done or the proper Christian example might smooth the hard, rough edges of their lives -- or perhaps even lead them to Christ. Do we keep our “oil can” with us? Or do we leave it at home, unfilled and unused?

      Modified from Cyclopedia of Religious Anecdotes, compiled by James Gilchrist Lawson p. 210

      • Others can see God in us or sin, worldliness and selfishness.
    2. It assures us that we are in God (vs. 13). This is not addressing the promise of the Holy Spirit as it came on Pentecost but God living in us through the imitation of His character (“of His Spirit” vs 13). This is a character that loves the unlovable:
      Illustration: Flexibility - God has created an animal that we call the snowshoe rabbit. This animal, twice a year completely changes color. As the days become longer or shorter in connection with moves towards summer or winter the rabbit will shed hair and replace it with new hair of a color appropriate to the season. In the summer, the rabbits color is brown, allowing it to blend in to the rocks, trees and bushes of its environment. In the winter the rabbit is white, causing it to blend into a snowcovered background. If God has adapted an animal to be able to adapt so well to the changes within its environment, surely He has given to man what is necessary to adapt ourselves to the changes in our lives in service to Him.

      Modified from Character Sketches from the Pages of Scripture Illustrated in the World of Nature, Vol. II, p. 70

      • If we don’t have it God isn’t in us!
    3. It reflects our faith in God’s ultimate act of love (vss. 14-16). Most often our love is conditional -- based upon the return of love. When we don’t get what we want we stop loving. God has a different love.
      Illustration: Love Eternal - “Whenever love depends upon some material cause, with the passing away of that cause, the love too passes away; but if it is not dependent upon such a cause, it will not pass away for ever.” (Joseph H. Hertz) from Jewish Mishnah, Perke Aboth (Sayings of the Fathers) 5.19
      • When we show the kind of love that God did we are expressing our on faith that God loved us that way!
    4. It allows us confidence on the day of judgement (vss. 17-18). Just as God’s love differs from the world’s John has told us earlier that true love for God is obedient John 14:21. Love to each other is an extension of this I John 2:3-5; 2:9-11 • John through the Holy Spirit teaches that if we have this love to God and to others We can be confident on the day of judgement that we are acceptable to Him. (Note: not arrogant - confident). • Not teaching against fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 9:10; II Corinthians 5:11) Rather, trust in God! (cf. after Red Sea parting Exodus 14:31). Believe in His act of love on our behalf. Note: Fear=(involves) torment. The one in whom God abides needs not fear torment.

    Conclusion. Resumption of Argument.

      • His love should lead to our love for Him (I John 4:19).
      • If we don’t love others we don’t love Him (I John 4:20). We might say - “I can’t love that way -- I’ve been hurt!”
      Illustration: Hearts Filled With Love - There is a plant in South America called the “Pitcher Plant.” On its stalk, below each leaf there is a cup-like formation which is always full of water. Whether the plant is small the cups are full of water. As it grows the cups are still full of water. When it matures the cups are still full of water. The human heart has the same capacity. The young child can love wholeheartedly. The growing young person can maintain a heart full and open enough to endure the trials of adolescence. The mature and battle-scarred adult can keep a heart that is filled will love, in spite of disappointments, betrayals and heartaches.

      Modified from Cyclopedia of Religious Anecdotes,
      compiled by James Gilchrist Lawson p. 212

    • Love is a command! (I John 4:21). There used to be a bumper sticker that said “ No Jesus - No Peace: Know Jesus - Know Peace.” In the Kansas City area a coffoe house followed that up with a coffee mug that said, “No Coffee - No peace; Know Coffee - Know Peace.” John tells us through the Holy Spirit, “No Love - No God! --- Know Love - Know God!”