SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- John starts this chapter by again addressing the false teaching of Gnosticism, which claimed Jesus did not really become a human.
- We read in verses 8 and 16 that "God is love." Notice it does not say that God is "loving." That would mean love is a characteristic of God. But things that are characteristic of us are not always true of us. (Like if you know someone who is funny. That person isn't always funny.) But it doesn't say God is "loving," it says God is love. Love defines who he is. He is always loving.
- Verse 16 says we need to know and rely on God's love for us.
- Because God is love and loves us, we need to love others (verses 7 and 11). If we do not love others, we need to question whether we truly love God. And if we do love others, not only does it show that we truly love God, but it also grows God's love in us and makes it complete (verse 12).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Verse 19 says, "We love because he first loved us." The idea is that we don't have to manufacture feelings of love for God. Our love for God isn't self-generated. Our love for God is a response to his love for us. So if we want to love God more, the path is to connect more deeply with his love for us.
- Verse 4 says, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" and verse 19 teaches us, "perfect love drives out fear." This means that you can live beyond fear, knowing that God is more powerful than anything you face in this world, and that God is for you.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- If you want to grow your love for God, you focus on the fact that God loved you first, and then grow in your experience of his love. What are some ways you can focus on God's love for you and experience it in a deeper way this week? What can you do?
- What person (or group of people) are you struggling to love? Ask God to help you. And realize that the key to loving others is knowing you are loved by God. So, again, how can you focus on God's love and experience it in a deeper way this week, so that you can love others more?