Love; June 17, 2019

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Reading from here through the end of the chapter, my overwhelming impression is that we know very little about love! Greek makes various distinctions, but our English usage of “love” turns it all into mud. We get eros all mixed into it, and end up needing the Holy Spirit to sort it all out. Actually, we need the Holy Spirit to keep us straight any time we read the Bible, because as Paul said, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) We need the “Author’s Commentary” for all our Bible reading! Hebrew doesn’t have all the different words for love that Greek does, but the Old Testament says some pretty powerful things about love too. After all, Jesus was quoting from the Hebrew when He said that the 1st and 2nd commandments were about love. (Matthew 22:37-40) John has been called “the love apostle” on the basis of his letters and his referring to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved,” in John 13, 19, 20, and 21. However, we tend to pollute the whole thing with lust to the point that we don’t understand anything. As John writes here, the point is to know both that God is love and that God is totally pure and holy. It is the devil who wants to confuse that, because he is neither love nor holy, and he wants to tear us from God. The example that John gives us here to understand love is God sending Jesus as our Savior. (verses 9 and 10) It is only as we grasp the reality of that in our own hearts and minds that we begin to understand love.

I grew up in a loving household that loved each other based on our love for God, but even we didn’t always get it right. As a young man I was as hormonal as would be expected, but God was incredibly gracious in protecting me and those around me. Giving me my life partner at 20 was a huge help! Last month I spoke on how my love for my wife has served as a barometer/thermometer for my love for God and for my neighbor, but I still am very aware that I have much to learn about love. That’s one more thing that I really look forward to about heaven, when all misunderstandings will be removed and we will know as we are known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) Until then, my task is to keep pressing in to Christ, so that He will be expressed more and more accurately through me. (Philippians 3:10)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Things in my own life and in the lives of those around me constantly point up our confusion about love. I ask You to make me a pure vessel for Your love so that it may be poured out unpolluted, for the blessing of all I touch and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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