Love for God and love for others is the fruit of true Christianity!
In a world filled with ideas about what love is, it can be hard to discern what it looks like to follow the Bible’s command to love. Our culture is obsessed with feelings. Most people view love as an emotion, which can come and go as it pleases. The world’s definition of love does not always involve actions. However, while the Bible does talk about love as a feeling and emotion, it talks more frequently about love as being evidenced mostly in our actions.
Name some verses about love that the fill the Bible? I think John uses statements about love more than anyone else kind of repeating what Jesus said about love and the importance of love. “We love, because God first loved us. And love one another as I have loved you. For God so loved the world, and so on…..” What is your favorite verse on love in the Bible, and why?
While the Bible talks a lot about love in difference contexts, it also makes it clear that true love originates in God. God is the author and source of love, which was ultimately demonstrated when God sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners (Rom.5:8). When God rescued us from our sin, He gave us a new identity and new desires and a new heart so that the fruit of love would be evident in our lives, because the love for God and love for others, is the fruit of true Christianity.
Jesus tells us that if we love Him it will be evident in that we keep His commandments to love one another. Love is more than a feeling it is an action that demonstrates our devotion to the Lord as well as it expresses our emotion. The world may have a different opinion of what love is and what it looks like – but what does the Bible say about love? Since God is the author and originator of love itself, maybe we should take our cue from Him in explaining what true and genuine love looks like.
In today’s passage, we will study the Biblical call to love. We cannot ignore the command to love – one of the most loudly and clearly stated threads of Scripture. Because God loved us, we respond by rightly loving those around us. If you have ever done any gardening, you know tomato seeds produce tomato plants, pecan trees drop pecans, and orange trees produce oranges. Thinking these crops would produce anything other than what was planted would be insanity. The reason is simple: the generic makeup of each tree or plant determines the fruit it might bear. A banana tree will never producer a bell pepper, an apple tree won’t produce asparagus, and a grapevine will never produce garlic. Some factors might affect a tree or plant’s ability to actually produce fruit – the amount of sunlight, nutrients, and water available – but it is always limited to producing what it was designed to produce. The same is true of people. People will always produce fruit according to how they are designed.
Read 1 John 3:10-13
Have you heard the saying, they will know us by our fruit – John is saying that it should be obvious who is a child of God. Jesus tells us in Matt.7:16-18 that we will know them by their fruit – every good tree bears good fruit – by their fruits you will know them – fruits are good works, which is an overflow or an effect that comes from true repentance and faith that causes us to walk in accordance to His will. This is why John is saying it will be obvious – because he who doesn’t do what is right is not of God and especially the one who does not love his brother or sister. (1 John 4:7-8) For he who does not love God does not know God, for God is love. For we are to love one another for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (not just believe).
So our love should be evidence of God in us – unlike Cain whose deeds were evil. John then reminds them to not be surprised if the world hates you, stating what Jesus had told the disciples in John 15:17-21.
What are some new qualities or characteristics we would expect to see in someone who has new life in Christ?
At the moment of our salvation, God initiates a great work in us. This work makes us more into the likeness of His Son – a work in which we partner with Him throughout our lives, until we meet Him face to face and the work becomes perfect and complete. We are all works in progress, but the proof that we have this new identity is the beginning of this work with in us – because who began a good work in us will complete it in the day of Jesus Christ (Phil.1:6).
Those who do not know Jesus do not yet have this sanctifying work within them. Their course is opposite to believers’, yet it is the same course ours used to be. Some openly mock God and hate Christians. They say they do not believe or love God and never plan to, and their lives are marked by hate. We should be grieved by these people. But what about those who are in the church – because the truth is we cannot always discern the difference between real spiritual growth and a false church-going performance. But the Bible is clear, just as a corn stalk will not produce a tomato, a spiritually dead soul cannot produce the life-bearing fruit of Christ.
We will see that God’s people are marked by their love for others because the love of Christ compels us to love others – Read 2 Corn. 5:14-15 and Rom.14:7-8. John continues by talking about this supernatural love that is within us, identifies us. Read 1 John 3:14-15
Becoming a Christian is a resurrection from death to life, and turning hate to love. Where we were once filled with hate toward others but we are now filled with the love of Christ and should have compassion toward others. We were once dead in our sins but now we have been made alive in Christ. The person who lives by faith is internally motivated by his love for God. Therefore, our faith is then expressed by our love toward others. A lack of love indicated a darkened and hardened heart, indicating that one is spiritually dead.
Next, John covers another characteristic of the devil’s children with respect to their lack of love. Hatred is spiritually the same as murder in the eyes of God – the attitude is equal to the act. Hate is the seed that leads to murder, so someone who hates has not inherited eternal life – because they are not born again.
Let’s look at Christ’s example of Christian love. Read 1 John 3:16-18 & 1 John 4:9-12
John tells us that this is how we know love that Christ laid down His life for us – so we must be willing to demonstrate this kind of love for our brothers, not in word only, but in action. Love is demonstrated by the giving of ourselves to others. Romans 5:8 tells us: God demonstrated His love toward us by dying on the cross. John explains this love even further in 1 John 4:9-11 by telling us that this love was not just spoken about, but it was revealed, when God sent His Son, even though we were sinners, so that we might live through Him.
John even states that it’s not that we love God but that He loved us regardless of our sin and brokenness by sending His Son to be the satisfying payment for our sins to appease the Holiness of God and His justice. Beloved he says, stating our position, in which God made it possible by His grace – so not only do we have this privilege, but we have this obligation to follow the this pattern of sacrificial love set before us in Christ. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Then in verse 12 he throws in that no one has ever seen God – stating that God’s love is invisible – but as we love one another we reflect God’s love into the lives of others, so that people see the love of God through us.
What John is saying is that love originated in God, was manifested in His Son, and demonstrated in His people. We are conduits of God’s love toward others – in other words, we are the way in which people see His love in the world. This love is not a power we can provide on our own, because we can’t naturally love others in our own ability because our love is broken. But because of God’s love for us and in us we can bring true acts of sacrificial, life-giving love to a lost and weary world. We must pass on His love to those around us. Our love, and expression of God’s love to others, cannot simply be through telling them how much God loves them or how much we love them; instead, we have to show this love by the way we live. It takes a combination of the words we speak, the way we treat others, and our general attitude about life which makes a great witness of God’s love toward others.
None of us will love perfectly, but as Christ-followers are main desire is to honor God with every moment. And as recipients of this merciful and powerful love of Christ, we should be a reflection of this love received and live in a way that is marked by love – in grateful worship, allowing the love of God to spill over to those we encounter.
Do people see the love of Christ in your life by the way you worship and praise God, or in the way you treat others, or in the way you live your life? What are some practical ways you can show love to the people around you?
In teaching the church about the nature of true love, the apostle John reminded Christians that love is not merely a matter of feelings or words but of action. Love was demonstrated and defined most clearly by Jesus action of laying down His life for His people. Think of the command for a husband to love their wife. How so? As Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. Our love must be demonstrated through our sacrifice for others and ultimately for the kingdom of God.