1 John 4:19
We love him, because he first loved us.
To many it seems that perfect amiableness and goodness in our Creator requires Him to look with entire approbation and indulgence upon men, without regard to the principles upon which they are acting, whether holy or unholy. And yet some of this very class of persons, when brought to a more intimate acquaintance with themselves and to a higher conception of what they ought to be, see that a holy God must hate them; and if He hates them they cannot imagine that He loves them at the same time. Here are the two extremes of error, one of which, probably, mankind generally regard as truth.
I. GOD CAN HATE AND LOVE THE SAME PERSON AT THE SAME MOMENT. It is shown in —
1. The very nature of benevolence. What is a good man? Try him by a case of this kind. He knows a man who is addicted to drunkenness, and who in his paroxysms abuses his family. How does this good man regard the case? He abhors the drunkard's character and conduct, yet he loves and pities the man. And thus God exhibits Himself to us as a holy God. He abhors all our sins. He threatens us with eternal destruction, and yet, while we were still enemies, He gave His Son to die for us.
2. Scriptural representation of God's feelings towards the children of men. Notice the case of those who murdered Christ. None can doubt that they were most hateful to God. And yet the dying Son, who fully represented His Father's feelings, regarded them as deserving the wrath of God at the same time He prayed for their forgiveness. And was that prayer ineffectual? No; for on the day of Pentecost, a servant of Christ is commissioned to go and charge upon them their crime, not to condemn them, but to bring them to repentance. And then the Holy Spirit descends to bring them to exercise repentance, and some of them, at least, are forgiven. Then look abroad upon a world lying in wickedness, sometimes as great as that which brought the deluge of water on the world or that of fire on Sodom. But He sendeth His rain upon the thankful and the unthankful.
II. GOD DOES LOVE ALL MEN. It is seen in —
1. The very act of creation. What endowments has He bestowed on man!
2. Forming a moral government for man. The laws under which He has placed us all aim at our personal perfection and the highest degree and form of happiness of which we are capable. But the crowning proof of God's love —
3. Is in Christ and redemption.
III. EVERY HUMAN BEING SHOULD LOVE HIM. The benevolence of God claims our admiration, complacency, and gratitude.
(E. N. Kirk, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We love him, because he first loved us.