By Rev Victor Neill
'In this was manifested (revealed - clearly shown) the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (that we might find life through Him). Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins (1 John 4 v 9 & 10)
The word ‘love' is used often glibly in today’s society, so often it is used with little thought of seeking the well being and good of another, without thought of cost. The word 'love' is also misused, when in fact the word ‘lust’ should be used! For what is meant is the selfish satisfying of fleshly and sinful desires. When some say ‘I love you', as our friend George Mitchell writes, they really mean 'I love me, I want you!’
You can of course guess by this stage that is certainly not what John means when he writes of ‘the love of God toward us'. This love so clearly demonstrated by God in sending His Son into the world, is a love that gives without counting the cost, for He gave His Son to die for us ‘sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins’ – God, because He loves us, wants us to experience a meaningful quality of life, a personal relationship with Him 'that we might live (find life) through Him'. In Christ we find life that has reality, that is joyful and has a glad assurance of heaven at the end of life’s journey. The truth is that God loves us despite what we are and what we do, not because of what we are or what we do - ‘not that we loved God but that He loved us'. God’s love changes everything and that love which first flows downward from God, should then flow outward through the person who has realised just how much God loves them, and has yielded to the love of God in Christ and that is why John goes on to write 'Beloved if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another' (v11).
Someone has written ‘what does love look like?'
‘It has hands to help others, it has feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see the misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like'