1 John 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.…
If a writer upon the vegetable kingdom should say, "The tree is of God," he would not be supposed to state any such commonplace fact that all the trees of the orchard and grove are His handiwork, but would be thought to mean some special genus or species of tree, so far exalted in form, uses, or beauty above other trees as to entitle it to this great distinction. It is the tree by eminence — the tree of God. So when John says "love is of God," he indicates a special kind of love — a peculiar form or expression of love, so different from every other, so far above and beyond every other as to merit the distinction that it is from God.
I. Such is Christian love, and that we may understand and appreciate it, we must CONTRAST IT WITH OTHER FORMS AND DEGREES OF THAT AFFECTION OF THE SOUL WHICH WE CALL LOVE.
1. It is not the love of the parent for the child, nor of the child for the parent. This is, doubtless, God emplanted.
2. Christian love is not the love of friend for friend, nor what is called sexual love. This often springs from the most trivial causes — caprices of fancy.
3. It is not the love of complacency, which in its first and highest sense belongs to God, or His love for all men, which bears with sin, defiance, rebellion, and suspends penalty.
4. It is not to be confounded with even the finest intellectual apprehensions of the perfect and glorious attributes of God.
5. Nor is it identical with profound admiration for the work of God, with that easy and prevalent sentimentalism which is the creature of sublimity, magnitude, and natural beauty.
II. LET US REACH IT BY DEGREES — POSITIVELY —
1. With respect to God as its object, it is an affection largely independent of extensive and accurate knowledge. A man may be a sage or philosopher, and know it not. The savage or boor may know its meaning, feel its power.
2. It flows out toward man in the proportion that he is like God.
3. It is elective — knows by a singular instinct the true and the false.
4. It is unselfish and disinterested.
5. Christian love is charitable.
6. It is operative and practical.
7. It is progressive.
(J. C. French.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.