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According to 1 John 4:7-12, God is love’s direct source, best example, prime mover, and ultimate completer.
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.
As you read these verses, notice their overall purpose: to motivate us to love one another. Love is the basic Christian ethic, whether that love is directed toward God, neighbor, and self (Matthew 22:37-40) or toward enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). Furthermore, for the Christian, there is no such thing as love without God.
This is true, first, because God is the direct source of love. John makes three statements about love to prove this: (1) “God is love.” Love is the essence of God’s moral character. (2) “Love comes from God.” It has its origin in his character. All love reflects his love. (3) “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” We were created to love God, neighbor, and self, but our sin alienates us from God and his purposes for our lives. Salvation (i.e., being “born of God”) reconciles us to God and restores in us the ability to love as we should.
Second, God is the best example of 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.” Since I will be writing about this topic in the next Daily Word, I won’t comment further on this verse at the present moment.
Third, God is the prime mover of love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God takes the initiative in his relationship to us. He does not wait for us sinners to get our acts right before he loves us. He loves us first—indeed, he sacrifices himself for us—so that we might get our acts right. Grace always precedes obedience and makes it possible.
And that is the fourth point: God is the ultimate completer of love. “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Or, to turn the sentence around so that its logic is clearer: As God lives in us and completes his love in us, we love one another.
God, then, is the beginning and end of love, its model and motivation. Therefore, as believers in God, let us act like him and love one another!