By J.R. Miller
1 John 4:7-16
"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." One reason why Christians should love one another, is because God would have them interpret His love to the world, and this they can do, only by love. Anything unloving--is not of God. We ought to think of this--that it is our mission--to let the world know what God is like. A great many people do not know God, do not know what His character is. We know Him and we are to make Him known to others. This we cannot do merely by telling them about God. The Bible is full of revealings of God--but it is not enough for us to read the Bible to people. It does little good for us to quote texts which tell of God's goodness, kindness and holiness--if we cannot show the goodness, kindness and holiness in our own life! The only Bible we can really get others to read--is the one written in our own conduct, disposition and character! People must see God's love in us.
When Mr. McAll went to Paris to begin his mission work, he knew only a few words of French. All he could say was, "God loves you, and I love you." His message was that God loved the people to whom he was speaking--but this would not have been listened to by them--if they had not seen the love also in the preacher. That is, the love of God was interpreted to them, in himself. We must give the same interpretation.
There is no other love like God's. There has always been love in the world. Mothers have always loved their children. There have always been tender home affections. Men have always loved their country. But these are only little fragments of love, imperfect and faulty at best. The great fountain and center of all love--is God's love. It is to all other love--as the sun is to all earth's little candles. God's love is love which does not depend on our love to draw it out. God does not love us because we love Him--if that were true, we would never have God's love. The message of the gospel is not that we should love God--but that God loves us. It makes a great deal of difference how we read the words. Which love comes first--ours, or God's? Our confidence is not in our love for God, which is very weak, faulty and ever changing--but in God's love for us. This is infinite, eternal, and never changes. Whatever our need or feelings may be, we may always be sure that the love of God is everlasting, the same yesterday and today and forever.
"The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." We think of the holy child sleeping His first infancy's sleep in the manger, and we hear the angel say, "There is born to you this day in the city of David--a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. " It is because God loved the world--that He gave His only begotten Son!
It is knowing and believing the love of God in Jesus Christ, which saves us. It is possible to know it and not sincerely believe it. To be blessed by it--we must believe that God loves us with an individual, personal love, and must let His love into our hearts. A story is told of a child in Luther's day, who for the first time heard and believed this love. She lived in a home where only severe thoughts of God were known. The name of God was used to frighten the children. Every mention of God made the child tremble. She had learned to think of Him as her enemy, watching her only to punish her. One day she found on the floor of her father's printing office a piece of torn paper with some words printed on it. Picking it up, she began to read, "God so loved the world, that he gave," it was torn off here. She did not know what followed. But the thought that God loved was an altogether new one for her. If He loved the world He could not be such a terrible God as she had been taught to believe Him to be. "God so loved the world that he gave," her paper said. What He gave, she did not know--but if He loved enough to give anything, He must be a kind and good God. So her thought ran on until, by and by, a new conception of God had taken possession of her heart. With nothing more than this little fragment of a verse--she had received a great truth, and the thought of God had become a wonderful blessing to her. She knew and believed the love that God had for her, and it saved her. This is the lesson all of us need to learn afresh!