Over the last few weeks I have shared with you a couple things relating to the topic of God’s love from the letter of 1st John. We looked at what drives us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1st John 1:7); that is, the “love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1st John 3:1). We also considered the confidence this love, expressed through Christ, should and can bring to the Christian as they walk in His light. Each step can be taken with “boldness,” free from fear of judgment, because “there is no fear in love” (1st John 4:17-18). What God has done for sinful man is so amazing!
Before we get to our verse for today, we need to consider briefly the verse before it which reads, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (1st John 5:1). It seems that to contradict the last two lessons concerning baptism and its essential nature. But I want you to note a couple other verses in this letter. 1st John 2:29 says in part that “everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” Then there is 1st John 4:7, which says in part that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Remember, John is writing to Christians about their walk with Christ and how it needs to be revealed in life. In short, as one commentator writes, “Love me; love my offspring.”
By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and keep His commandments.
1st John 5:2
God’s love was never intended to merely touch the individual sinner; but rather, it was intended to flow through the redeemed and out into the world. Thus, one could say that godly love was meant to be reciprocal. That is just a fancy word that means given, felt, or done in return. The question I wish to consider today is simple and challenging and here it is: How do I reciprocate God’s love?
CAUTION!!! It is amazing how quickly one can be overwhelmed by the check list of law. We get caught up in the words “keep His commandments,” failing to remember that it is “by this.” The “by this” is referring to the love the believer has for the Father, and thus, as J. W. Roberts writes, “is natural to love the child of the parent when we love the parent…” Our love for God should result in our ever-growing desire to love His children as we walk in the light. The greatest command shared by Jesus is this, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). One’s commitment to loving God fully is exhibited by one’s willingness to “keep His commands.” Note, I said exhibit! I love my wife completely, but even after 38 years of marriage, I am learning ways to exhibit that love. My complete love for her is revealed in my continued quest to learn how to love her and so it is with God and His children.
So, how do I reciprocate God’s love? It begins with my understanding of God’s love for me through the redemptive work of Christ. It must start there! That awareness and conviction of God and his love revealed through Christ (belief) directs or leads me to want to love Him back by seeking out those things which would please Him (Ephesians 5:10), also known as Hos commands. Those very commands help me to learn how to love His children, the church. What goes around, in this case, should truly come around.