How can we love God?
We love him because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19
1 John 4:16-19
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
19 We love him because he loved us first.
Often individuals create a Fantasy Bond between themselves and others, particularly the Father God.
How can we be sure of our love is true?
Love obviously involves feelings. But feelings come and go. It is better to think of love is as a verb. “Love is dynamic and requires action to thrive” (Dr. Lisa Firestone). Love in action facilitates and sustains feelings of love. Love is a choice. We take actions based upon our choice to love another. We can choose to behave in such a way that demonstrates intimacy, compassion, affection, respect, and kindness.
We only have control over our own feelings, not those of others. We only have control over our half of the relationship. Love requires reciprocity. If it does not exist, we may be living in fantasy.
A fantasy bond is “an illusion of connection and closeness.” Individuals imagine that love exists when in fact there is emotional distance. A fantasy bond forms when couples substitute the outward form of being in a relationship, in place of real love and closeness (Dr. Lisa Firestone).
Too many children of the King have a fantasy bond rather than a real bond with others and the Father.
How does the Father bring us into a love relationship with Him? He does not use fear, particularly fear of judgment. Rather He uses love to beckon us to come to Him.
How can we love God? Our love for the Father is the response of our hearts to His love for us. The Father loves every child of the King, yet more than that He is in love with us! When we finally realize and understand this reality, it causes a paradigm shift in our hearts and minds. It is one thing to know that we are loved, it is another thing to experience love. While we experience His love, we l love Him in return. The Father’s always takes the initiative. We love Him because He first loved us.
“The more we realize and experience how much God loves us, the more we are motivated to love Him in return.” (Marshall).
REFLECT & PRAY
1 John 4:10 This is real love– not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Father thank You for choosing to love me. Encourage me to fall in love with You. Enable me to demonstrate my love for You and others through my actions.
When we desire to enter into a love relationship with someone, there is a certain degree of fear and trepidation. Why is this so? Because we are uncertain and doubt that our love will be reciprocated. This can never happen in our relationship with the Father. Because when we reach out to Him, it is in response to Him reaching out to us. “We have no fear of this since God’s love was prior to ours” (Akin).
When we are assured of the Father’s love and our adoption into His Forever Family, we enjoy a settled sense of security. Our hearts and minds can be at rest. When we realize that the uncertainty regarding our eternal destiny is settled and sure. We become confident in the Father’s loyal love.
Because the Father loved us first, we merely reciprocate. There is no fear. In its place, there is a calm settled peace and confidence in our hearts.
But there’s more!
1 John 4:8-10
8 God is love.
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.
10 This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
“Get the thought into your head a minute: ‘God loves me’ – not merely bears with me, thinks of me, feeds me, but loves me. Oh, it is a very sweet thing to feel that we have the love of a dear wife, or a kind husband; and there is much sweetness in the love of a fond child, or a tender mother; but to think that God loves me, this is infinitely better!”
“Who is it that loves you? God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Almighty, All in all, does He love me? Even He? If all men, and all angels, and all the living creatures that are before the throne loved me, it were nothing to this – the Infinite loves me! And who is it that He loves? Me. The text says, “us.” “We love Him because He first loved us.” But this is the personal point – He loves me, an insignificant nobody, full of sin – who deserved to be in hell, who loves Him so little in return – God loves ME” (Spurgeon).
1 John 4:18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not been perfected in love.
The Greek word translated perfected is teleios. Teleios has the sense of finished, complete, mature, full, wanting in nothing, that which has reached its end. In English perfect has the sense of being flawless. But perfected love here does not have the sense of being absolutely perfect, impeccable. Many children of the King are strong and ardent in their pursuit of maturity and completeness. None of them are stainless.
Regarding maturity, consider the lifecycle of a dog. It begins life as a puppy. In time, it becomes an adolescent, and then an adult. At that point it is mature. But it continues to grow in maturity for the rest of its life. So it is with the children of the King.
As we grow and mature, the Father’s perfect love expels all fear. On the other hand, when any child of the King lives in fear, it indicates that they have not yet been perfected in love. “There is ‘no room for fear in love’ (NEB). The two are as incompatible as oil and water. We cannot approach Him in love and hide from Him in fear at the same time. Indeed, it is by love for God that a false cringing fear of God is overcome. It ‘flings it out of doors’” (Stott).
Love for the Father and others frees people from fear. When we live within the security of the Father’s love for us and practice love for others, we will experience freedom from all fear. Experiencing the Father’s love and loving Him and others sets us free from fear.
Fear is a vicious tormentor. The Father’s love drives out and banishes fear from the mind and heart. It provides ease and rest.
“Servile fear is the spirit of bondage, but love is the spirit of adoption. The evangelical principle gives boldness and confidence . . .. Fear keeps at a distance and prevents boldness of access” (Jonathan Edwards).
If we are afraid of the Father, it tells us a lot about ourselves.
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