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Tuesday, April 4th, 2023

A well known Bible verse is 1 John 4:19, “We love because [Christ] first loved us.” What does that verse mean in its context though? If we read John 4:7-21, John is speaking on God’s love, a form of perfect and self-sacrificial love called “agape” love in the Greek. After developing the idea that we come to know God’s love because He has given us His spirit, John says, “By this [understanding of God’s love], love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.” From there John exhorts believers not to fear, but to love because we are assured life, not condemnation, in Jesus. What does this mean? This means that we love not as a means of getting things in this world but as a means of giving Christ to others. The world loves one another until they stop receiving what they want out of the relationship. The way the world gives and understands love is for reciprocation or for some fleshly benefit. Agape love, Christ’s love, is self-sacrificial; it is given without condition. John is saying that because we have been given such love, and abide in it by the Holy Spirit, we must be fearless in our giving of Christ-like love, which opens the door for the Gospel to advance and shows the world who Christ is as he lives within us. In this, we will not always be met with reciprocation or kindness, but we should take confidence in the fact that by Christ’s work on the cross, we fear no punishment before God. So, we are free to show Christ’s love to the world, not needing anything in return from it. We have everything we need already. Thus, giving Christ-like love to the world is an expression of faith in the sufficiency of the Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We love because Christ first loved us; said another way, we love because by Christ’s loving work for us, we stand assured by faith before God. Today, show the love of Christ to the world fearlessly.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." -- 1 John 4:7-21 NIV

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