By Stan Brown
I John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
John uses the word love (agape) fifteen times in verses seven through twelve. He will use it an additional fourteen times in verses sixteen through twenty-one. One might begin to get the idea that John believes love is important. John begins this verse with a short statement that draws attention to what he has to say In this is love. He begins with a negative, lest we might get the idea that love began with us. Sure, we may have appreciated some of His acts of grace that we see around us every day like food and air and water and sunshine and everything that He has created (Paul says He richly supplies us with all things to enjoy 1Tim. 6:17). But we cannot really understand what love is until we understand the manner in which He loves. Love always begins with God. Our love is always a response to God’s love whether it be responding to Him in love or loving those whom He has created and loves. In the previous verse he said it this way, God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Here he says He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. In expressing His love for us God sent His Son to take upon Himself all the judgment sin requires. In 2:2 John has already declared that God’s offer of love was not only for those who believe but is sufficient for all sins of all time for all people He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. This is where love always begins. We must never take pride in loving others for it can never measure up to the infinite love of God. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us.
We learn at least three significant lessons from this verse. First, God’s love was not a response to our love. If we only respond in love to those who love us, it cannot measure up to the standard of God’s love. Often cultural norms say that if someone does something for us, we respond in kind and if we don’t respond properly with similar action, they never speak to us again. To be sure, we must accept God’s gift of love but then He merely showers more love upon us. Second, God’s love was designed to exactly meet our need. Too often we show love in a manner to make us feel good about ourselves even if it does not exactly meet the need. God’s love always completely and precisely meets our needs. Third, God’s love is offered to all. The free gift of eternal has always been available to each and every person who lives on this earth. Jesus died for all. We can never excuse ourselves with the thought that our brother or sister is unworthy of our love. In fact, we can never excuse ourselves with the thought that anyone is unworthy of our love. God loved us while we were still mired in the depths of sin and declared as His enemies. Rom. 5:8-10 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
As we look at everything swirling around us in the world today, we must remember that just as it required the love of God to defeat sin, God's love is the only way to defeat the chaos we face. Let us seek to love one another as God loves.