This is the last message in a series we called “You Can’t Do That!”, outlining four different things you can’t do, Biblically speaking. Today we’ll explore 1John 4 and discover that you cannot say you love God and “hate your brother.” It’s really all about love; God’s Love.
1 John 4.7-11
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Wow, love. There is no more abused word in the world than this one. In modern culture it can mean that I have feelings, inclinations, attractions, and they excuse me from standards and responsibilities and even common sense in my decisions. And say the word “love” and these days you’ll get romance, hearts, Valentines Day and a whole host of other stuff.
If we’re going to talk about this, we’re going to have to define love the way God defines it. The word love here in 1 John is “the characteristic word of Christianity” and it has distinct meaning in the New Testament. The Greek word is the familiar “Agape”. Christians throw that word around a lot. Again, what does it mean?
First of all, it’s an attitude of the heart.
It’s the attitude that God has toward His Son. The Father was “for” the Son in everything He did and needed to do. The Father was the driving force behind everything Jesus said, did and wherever He went.
It’s the attitude God has toward man in sending His Son. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The Father sent His Son for one reason; to save mankind from the penalty and power of our sin. That’s selfless.
It’s the attitude God has toward those who believe on the Lord Jesus. So that the love of God is the driving force behind God sending the Holy Spirit, giving us strength and grace and help and provision that carries us through this life to Heaven.
So love is this: the highest form of favor and outpouring, of the attitude of the heart, that results in selfless actions to benefit the one loved, irrespective of their attitude.
Jesus said that if you only love those who love you back, while that’s fine, it’s only what people of any stripe can do.
Where does love come from?
As a matter of fact, real love can come from just one source: God Himself.
Real love is not natural, it’s supernatural, God Himself is the only fountain you can drink this from.
From our text today, it says this in verse 8, God is love. So His Divine Substance consists of, He is the definition and source of Love. What our society calls love, pales in comparison to the Bible’s definition.
So a person becomes a Christian. And the Holy Spirit lives inside that person now. What is the first result? They begin to love people. Their enemies. Their “haven’t spoken to them in years” relatives. Why is that? Because God is Love.
So back in the early 1700’s there was a tremendous move of God in Germany called the Moravian Movement. There was a rich, well placed man, Count VonZinzendorf, who had an encounter with the Lord and became a Christian when he was young. His faith carried into his adulthood. Eventually he housed some persecuted Christians, Moravians, and after they began meeting for prayer, something amazing happened. The Holy Spirit fell on them. The prayer meeting went viral; and there were remarkable signs and wonders. They had a 24 hour prayer meeting for 100 years, which meant their kids had to embrace it too. Now that would have been cool enough, but wait, there’s more.
They began to be troubled about people in other parts of the world not knowing Christ. So in 1732, two young men, left on a ship bound for St. Thomas in the Caribbean. There were 2-3 thousand slaves on that island and the British man who owned those slaves actively refused to let any Christians ever minister to them. The Moravians heard about this situation and began to talk about it and pray over it. These two men were so moved by the situation that they left, not knowing if they would ever come back, being willing to become slaves themselves if they had to, in order to bring the Good News to these people. “May the Lamb of God receive the reward of His suffering” they yelled back to their families as the ship pulled away.
Why would two men, one married with children, do that for people they had only heard of? Was it adventure? or fame? or money? These folks weren’t of the same race, same situation in life. They were far away, really far away.
It was for love. And it was because of Love that originates in God. The love of God was shed abroad in their hearts. .Romans 5.5 says it, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Love: the highest form of favor and outpouring of the attitude of the heart that results in selfless actions to benefit the one loved, irrespective of their attitude.
So…here’s the question of the day. Can you love God and do anything else (like hate) to your brother? Meaning, in the context of the Christian world to begin with, can you do both? The answer is of course no.
Here’s what the end of chapter 4 says.
1 John 4.20-21 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
It’s totally incompatible with the Love of God. Completely.
Only Love toward other people is appropriate when you’ve known the Love of God.
Objections: well they’re acting like idiots. They completely betrayed me. We just have a personality clash. I can’t stand them. We disagree about everything. You wouldn’t believe what they said: to my kids!
Should you have boundaries with people who are difficult? May be. But do you stop loving them? No.
Forgiveness and a return to love is the only option that agrees with the Love of God. Hating another person, detesting them, even pursuing them for vengeance sake, tells us one thing. You don’t love God. But they… No, you don’t have the Love of God in you if hatred is there.
So let’s apply what we’ve studied today.
1. Have you been changed by the Love of God toward you? The Love that has no respect to the attitude, the position of the one being loved. God loved the world, yes, but He loves you. You’re here today, you’ve been transformed by Him because He picked you to love. Do you love Him in response? The result of Love toward God is that you’ll, as a result, do selfless acts to benefit Him. In other words, you’ll obey Him.
2. Do you Love people with the Love of God? As in, do you, with time, talent and treasure, benefit anyone that can’t pay you back? That wouldn’t do a “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” kind of payback? So is there anyone that God is pointing you to? Could it be that He wants you to benefit them somehow out of His Love?
3. Is there anyone you need to stop hating? We’re told in Romans 12 to do good, pray for and bless (speak well of) people who are persecuting us, lying about us, speaking out against us. To stop hating, do the opposite and start with the Love of God. Do something to benefit them.
It’s actually freeing to only be left the one option of Loving with the Love of God. And it comes to us from outside ourselves, it’s shed abroad in our hearts by God Himself.