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. 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. 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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:16–21
Ben Witherington writes:
It has been said that if all theology is grace, then all ethics is gratitude, and certainly we have here the idea that Christians love others in part because they are grateful that God loves them. D. Moody Smith draws the following conclusions about the nature of love: “Love can be received only as it is shared. To be the object of love without sharing love with others may be theoretically possible, but it is self-corrupting, if not destructive, contradicting the character and defeating the purpose of loving. At the same time, God’s love frees us from self-concern and thus enables us truly to love others.” It might be said then, that even the power and the ability to love are a gift from God. This is ot a natural human trait, at least when we are talking about fallen human beings, who are inherently self-centered. This is why our author says, “We love because God first loved us.” Notice that he does not say, “We love God because God first loved us,” though that is true as well. The point is that our entire capacity to love anyone comes from God’s prior pouring out of His love into us.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 102
Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.