1 John 4:19
We love him, because he first loved us.
We love, because he first loved us.
I. GOD LOVES. He is not an impassive, unemotional, passionless Being. From all eternity there was a tender, infinite, ineffable love between the Father and the Son. When the Scriptures represent God as having a heart, as pitying, sorrowing, repenting, loving, hating, there is a true meaning in the representations. If we take the corresponding emotion in ourselves, purge it from evil, elevate and sublime it as much as possible, then we have that which in its character resembles the emotion which is predicated of God. God truly loves.
II. GOD LOVES MAN. He loves not only his equal Son, or the Holy Spirit, or great and good angels, but man - weak, frail, and sinful. Yes, "sinful;" for he loves man as man; not merely the pure and lovable, but the sinful and morally deformed. If God loved only those whose hearts had some love toward him, he would love none; for all are estranged from him by sin. But "he first loved us." "In this was manifested the love of God towards us," etc. (verses 9, 10); "For when we were yet without strength, in due season Christ died for the ungodly," etc. (Romans 5:6-8); "God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses," etc. (Ephesians 2:4, 5); "God so loved the world," etc.
III. GOD'S LOVE TO MAN IS THE ORIGINATING CAUSE OF MAN'S LOVE. "We love, because he first loved us." "The love of God to us is the source of all our love." The flowers that slumber in the earth during winter do not start forth in spring and woo the sun's warm return; but the sun comes bathing their beds with light and warmth until they feel his genial influence and respond thereto. So is it with God's love and ours. "Love begets love;" and so God's love to us begets love in us. It follows from this that our love, in its character, though not in its degree, must resemble that of God. There is something in us which has an affinity to his love, and therefore responds to it. We were made in his image, and thus our love is like unto his. Every form or expression of human love finds its archetype and its perfect expression in God. Take the love of a father for his child. A noble thing is a father's love. It is, however, perfect only in God. "A Father of the fatherless is God in his holy habitation;... Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;" "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us," etc. A mother's love is one of the most holy and beautiful things in the universe; but it is perfect only in God. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" etc. (Isaiah 49:15, 16); "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you." A husband's love is perfect only in God. "Thy Maker is thine Husband; the Lord of hosts is his name." His fidelity is steadfast, his protection is constant and adequate, etc. The love of friends is found in perfection only in God. "The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend;" "Abraham was called the friend of God." Jesus Christ, the Revealer of God, is the "Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." The love of a child for its parents also finds perfect expression in the Divine nature. Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as the Son of Mary is the perfect pattern of such affection. Thus every aspect of true human love is beautiful, sacred, Divine. God has them all in all perfection in himself. He has manifested them, and still manifests them to us. Our Lord Jesus is the completest, brightest manifestation of love. Behold it in him. Condescension, labour, humiliation, patient submission, and uttermost self-sacrifice for sinners. Can you conceive any manifestation of love more complete, more sublime, more Divine? The personal realization of a love such as this must beget love in us. Its nature or ours must be changed ere it can be otherwise. If you love him not, you are really not fully persuaded that he loves you. Behold in Jesus Christ the love of God towards you. Did he not love you? Is he not love? Then, why not love him? Gratitude should constrain you to do so. Some can adopt the language of the text as their own: "We love, because he first loved us." And others have advanced to love him because of what he is in himself. Let us endeavour to love him more and know him more, to know him more and love him more, and so become increasingly like unto him. - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: We love him, because he first loved us.