There are many virtues we see in the Scriptures, but the highest and grandest virtue is love. Faith, hope, and love are Christian virtues, but the greatest is love (1 Cor. 13:13). Jesus summarized all the commandments of God in two—love God and love your neighbor (Matt. 22:4). Additionally, the whole law is fulfilled by love (Gal. 5:14).
If love is this important then we need a clear picture of it. Where do we get a clear definition? Who do we look to? The apostle John says to look to God. The book of 1 John is a book of assurance. The challenging statements there are given to cause us to examine our faith to see if it is genuine. When passed, these tests of faith validate our profession.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:7-21
This is a convicting text of Scripture. Clearly, one test of the genuineness of a person’s profession of faith is this kind of love. Here we find two truths to meditate upon.
God commands us to love.
This is not easy. We are selfish. Sometimes our love is conditional, “I’ll love you if you’re on good terms with me, but if you cross me a few times then, brother, I’m moving on.” The test of love is not if we love people when it is easy. There is no life transformation necessary to love those who love you. The true test of genuine, biblical love is loving people when it is hard to love them.
God shows us love.
It would have been perfectly acceptable for God to simply command us to love, but He went further. He demonstrated love. God created us to be holy and set the standard sky-high, but every one of us fails to be holy. God’s judgment is the just consequence. Left to ourselves, we are absolutely doomed. But God… The most offended party in man’s conflict with God sent the remedy. God came down in person to solve our problem. Forgiveness of sin is costly. Therefore, God sent His own blameless and innocent Son to absorb the full wrath of God for the sins of man, those who hated and ignored Him. But we were convicted, condemned men and women on our way to execution, but God rescued us.
This is amazing love! God loved you in the giving of His Son. Do you know Him?
[This brief post is from a recent sermon preached by Ed Fedor to our congregation at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]