“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12)
When we are in our younger years, we are shown the love of God, we are told of the love of God, and we are told to love in this way. But with many of us, due to our lack of understanding, we equate God’s love with a self-serving love that largely has our self interest as the motivation for our actions.
But, we are learning.
As we begin to grasp the meaning of God’s love, we come to understand that love cannot exist outside of relationships with others. God has shown us His love by sending His Son to make provision for the reestablishment of His relationship to us. He now looks upon us as friends, and not as his enemies.
He wants us then to come to him so that we may live in relationship with Him in oneness of Spirit and heart through the Gospel. We struggle often in this relationship, as we are yet prone to slide backwards into loving God for what we can get from Him.
Yet, we are growing in our knowledge of what real love is, learning that it is living in relationship with one another and seeking what is beneficial to the relationship, whatever the size of it is. This is progress, when we are able to come to a place of recognizing that we are part of a bigger picture, part of a body of worshippers of Christ, whether it be husband and wife, family members, congregational members, community members, or others.
At this point, there is yet a reciprocity in a relationship that is being built and nurtured between at least two people. We are learning that loving another person for the sake of the union is a lot better than loving selfishly for what we can get for ourselves.
Selfish love uses people for one’s own benefit, rather than loving them for the sake of the enjoyment of the purpose in the united relationship.
God loved and yet loves us while we were and are yet sinners. He loved us knowing that many of us would spurn His love. He loves us even when we cannot love Him back. He never stops extending this love to us.
What about when someone is not able to love us in return? What about when someone spurns our love? Does it diminish the love that we have for them? Are we yet able to love them, even if they do not love us in return?
Yes, we are able to because the love of God that is shed abroad into our hearts has been given by the Holy Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, we love in the same way that God has loved us. In this way, love is increased/matured. The evidence of our understanding and experience of the love of God is seen in our loving others in an unconditional manner.
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:12