In previous posts I have talked about the importance that the Lord places on love. He cites Love as the basis for the Law and Prophets in Matthew 22:37-40, for example. The last several posts looked at 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is a comprehensive definition of the love that is the taught about and demonstrated, both positively and negatively, throughout the bible.
What I want to do now is to survey the New Testament to look at examples of this love in action and learn from them what the Lord has designed for us. I am starting with 1 John since I know there is a lot here about love and how critical it is for us.
First, I encourage you to stop reading this blog post right now and read the whole letter of 1 John. It is short and will only take a few minutes. Then read on with the rest of this post.
The Purpose of 1 John
In his first letter, John states his purpose for writing in a couple of places. Although he does not specifically mention love in those places, it is obvious from reading the letter that love figures prominently in that purpose.
This is how the letter begins:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:1-4
Also in chapter 5:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13
John, by inspiration, wrote believers so that we would be filled with joy and know that we have eternal life. Think about that. That is powerful. What believer would not want to know that?
It is important to keep this context in mind as we study the letter. My plan is not to make this a comprehensive study of 1 John. I am intending to go through the letter looking for love in practice, noting the importance that love has in the purpose stated above, while keeping connected with the context. There is much more to this letter and I encourage everyone to spend time beyond this study in 1 John.
Themes of Love
There a several themes of love that are woven through this letter. As we go through the letter, they should become apparent. Look for love from God, love for God and love for one another, for example. It is important to remember that this is all the same love. The love God shows us is the love we are expected to learn. This is the “agape” form of love. It is a conscience decision to act for the welfare of another. It is not the kind of love that is connected with or inspired by emotion. That is something different.
1 John 2
The first specific mention of love is in chapter 2. Lets look at these verses:
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6
This is an interesting connection being made here. Obviously, love is not an isolated feeling for God, separated from the life I live. This love is directly related to the life I live. The choices I make and the way I live are evidence of the love of God in me. As that love matures in me, the choices I make will be more and more consistent with the instructions and guidance God has given us. I cannot claim to be have this love while living a life foreign to His will.
This post is starting to get a little long. I intend to pick up the study here and look at a couple of other mentions of love in this chapter in the next post.
What are your perspectives on 1 John?
Until next time…