Truth, Understanding, Insight

We Should Love One Another.

19th December 2005, sjh


The first epistle of John quite strongly emphasises the importance of having love for other people. It is placed as being one of the central attributes that someone must have in order to even be able to accept or to understand God. Modern society has a whole range of understandings of what love is, or how it may be expressed. They may vary among ideas that include lust, and simply making people happy. The views of our society will affect our initial response, so we need to take care to find the real interpretation.

In 1 John 3, there is an example of two things. One is of what love is not, and another is the response that loving people wil receive,

1 John 3:11: For this is the message which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one, and killed his brother. Why did he kill him? Because his works were evil, and his brother's righteous. 13 Don't be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. WEB

Cain is described as not loving, because he killed his brother Abel out of jealosy. The point is also made that the world as a whole would hate the followers of Christ. So these people would be hated even though they would be loving people themselves. Perhaps this says something about the nature of the love that is being discussed. This love is apparently not something that is necessarily aimed at making other people happy. It is not something that naturally makes people popular.

Later, an strong example is given of this type of love. This the epitome of the great love of God himself.

1 John 4:8: He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love. 9 By this was God's love revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. WEB

So God demonstrated his love through providing his son as a means for people to live. This wasn't something that on the whole made the population happy, but it was something that was very valuable to those people who have understood it.

The significant point here is that this love is often not recognised as such, or not even appreciated by the person receiving the love. Rather than being something to create peace and happiness for a moment, it ought to be substantial,

1 John 4:20: If a man says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn't love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother. WEB

James 2:15: And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you tells them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled;" and yet you didn't give them the things the body needs, what good is it? WEB

Actually supplying the physical need is something that takes more effort than creating a positive feeling. In fact, we know that showing this love can create a negative feeling.

A challenge for those living in the affluent societies of the world is that this love isn't generally distributed through wealth. Giving of “things” is often on the side of something to make people happy for the moment, whereas often the truly valuable expression of love costs time and a loss of own personal goals for the sake of furthering the good of others.

A good example is shown in God's love. In showing us love, he didn't give us a new car and TV set, but rather the big gift was life in Jesus.

1 John 5:11: The testimony is this, that God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn't have God's Son doesn't have the life. WEB

So that is the big example of displaying love. So for believers in God, one of the biggest challenges in loving others is to ensure that they too can participate in that gift. That is an expression of love that can take an immense amount of time and effort, and one that can receive hate in return, but this is the love that God has given us.