Scripture Text: 1 John 4:7-21
Memory Verse: “And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:21
Lesson Aim: To motivate us to find strength through loving God and others.
Being loved and giving love can be the most gratifying experiences of all. Receiving love satisfies a need that is present in all of us and our ability to love is often shaped by the love we receive.
Love is important to God. He is love (1 John 4:8). God commands His people to love—to love Him, to love one another and to even love our enemies.
The depth of our love for God will be reflected in our obedience to Him. We love Him because He first loved us. But He requires us to love Him with all our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4). It is in the hours, days, weeks and months of daily living that we must prove our love to God by being obedient to His Word. To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. An ounce of obedience is worth a ton of sacrifice.
Loving in the context of God’s Word allows us to reach up to God and to reach out to others. John speaks of the parallel Christians must recognize in our love being expressed upward (to God) and outward (to others). We cannot say we love God if we do not love one another (1 John 5:2-3).
Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about love—Love that is not based on human affections or good feelings. The love Paul describes when exercised to its fullest dimension is the God kind of love that every believer should strive to attain. Note Paul’s description of God’s (agape) love:
“Charity [love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity [love] envieth not; charity [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity [love] never faileth….” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a emphasis added).
Here are a few principles that can help us understand agape love.
- Love is an act of will. The kind of love that Jesus modeled requires deliberate decisions and conscious effort. It takes work to love, but it is the love of God in us that will enable us to love like
- Love is action. It is not just words, but something we do. Actions speak louder than words. Backing up our words is proof of our love (1 John 3:18).
- Love reaches out to the unlovely. If you love only those who love you, what makes you any different than sinners (Luke 6:32-33)?
- We need God’s help to love. It is not in our nature to love like God loves. That’s why we need to mature in the fruit of the
- Love expects nothing in return (Luke 6:35). If we are to love as God loves, we find that we need to love without any thought of personal
- Love is self sacrifice. Here are some practical ways to love others as Jesus loves us: (1) helping when it is not convenient; (2) giving when it hurts; (3) devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own; (4) absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back, true forgiveness.
When the young lawyer tempted Jesus with the question about which was the greatest commandment, Jesus summed it up perfectly, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is the love worth seeking. This is the love worth finding. This is the love worth sharing and walking in. There is strength in this kind of love.
Interact with God’s Word:
- What is the ultimate measure of our love for God? John 14:15, 23-24
- Identify and discuss at least one fact or concept about love in each verse of 1 John 4:7-12.
- Why is it important that we love one another? John 13:35; 1 John 4:20-21
- What does it mean to walk in love? Ephesians 5:2; 2 John 1:6; Romans 12:9-10