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.…
A famous writer has said that "religion is morality touched with emotion." That is a very inadequate and unsatisfactory definition of Christianity; the only word that can adequately define the religion of Christ is love.
I. A VERY TENDER APPEAL: "Beloved."
1. The cold, stoical nature is a power, but it is a power that repels from it, it never draws, it has not the least attractive force in it. If we would win men and persuade them to act as brethren, let us use tenderness. We need not use it to the exclusion of the light, purity, and truth of religion.
2. The sweet reasonableness of the appeal would have great force with those to whom the apostle wrote. Did they not owe everything in a religious sense to love, for had they not been told over and over again that "God so loved the world?" etc. The hardest and most solid ice will yield to the genial influences of the sun, and the most hardened and stubborn hearts will yield to the gracious power or love when every other force will fail to influence them.
3. It was a consistent appeal. John's tender words came from a large and loving heart; it was because his heart felt that his lips spake the soft and gentle word.
II. AN ARGUMENT. "For love is of God." Fire is found in many objects very dissimilar one from the other. It is found in coal in considerable quantity, it abounds in wood, it is contained in iron, and it is locked up in the flint; and it appears that there is some little measure of it in water even. It would seem that the sun cannot touch any object without imparting to some degree its own nature to that object; for, as you are aware, the sun is the inexhaustible source of fire wherever it is found, whether in the coal, or flint, or water. And wherever we meet with love, whether in the husband to the wife, or the wife to the husband, the brother to the sister, or the sister to the brother, the friend to the friend, or in one Christian to another; wherever we meet with it, God is the source of it, "for God is love." In this argument John appeals to one of the most powerful instincts in man — the desire to be like the great. To imitate the great is a universal passion in men. To paint like the great masters is the one all-consuming passion of artists. If we carefully considered the thought in our calmer moments that to love is to be like God, the very sublimity of the idea would be enough to inspire us to "love one another," even if every other motive failed. Where there is brotherly love, there is sure to be generous help if it be needed.
III. TWO IMPORTANT SIGNS OF LOVE.
1. Divine sonship — "And everyone that loveth is begotten of God." These are very encouraging words. Almost all Christian people are sorely tried with dark and crushing doubts at one time or other in their history. In such moments of spiritual experience one of the most effectual ways of removing the wretched doubt is to ask ourselves the question, "Do I love God and my brethren?" If the answer be "Yes," then we may console ourselves that we possess one of the most unmistakable signs of sonship.
2. A power to recognise God. "And everyone that loveth...knoweth God." The great intellect may recognise Him in His works and dealings with men, but much, if not everything, in regard to our knowledge of God depends upon the state of the heart. It is not of a mere superficial acquaintance with God that the apostle is speaking, such as we obtain of an object or a person by just seeing him a few times; he is speaking of that knowledge which is the grand result of apprehending God as the Father of our spirits and the Author of salvation — it is the knowledge that ripens into a firm faith and a calm trust in God as our unfailing Friend, who is reconciling the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.
(D. Rhys Jenkins.)
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.