1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Love comes from God. It’s that simple. This, of course, includes the love which we have received. We have all received love from God in the person of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins. In love God has cleansed our loveless hearts, declared them pure and lovely for Jesus’ sake, even come to live in them himself. You and I have personally experienced and benefited from the love which flows from God to us.
But there is more to this love. That love which comes from God to us cannot continue to pour into us without overflowing to others. “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” When John speaks of those who are born of God, he is not referring to natural birth. He is referring to the same kind of birth Jesus described to Nicodemus: “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is our second birth, the birth of our spiritual life, the birth of our faith.
When John speaks of knowing God, the word he uses for knowing doesn’t emphasize knowing facts about God. This is not like the knowledge we have about Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison from history books at school. This is the kind of knowing that comes from having met someone and becoming his friend. In this case we even become part of his family. This is how we know God when we are born again.
Such faith and knowledge are our connection to God’s love. As God’s love pours into us, it fills us up and it spills over in a life of love to everyone else. And so, when we love one another, we are not the source of that love. God is, even when our hands are serving and our mouths speaking.
Do you see how such a life of love is the product of so much more than just a long list of rules to keep? When an earthly father wants his children to behave in public, he may give them a long instructions. He warns them to stay away from this, not to touch that, to stay out of everyone else’s way, to “stop picking on your brother.” But maybe sometimes your father simply said to you, “Why don’t you sit next to me here and hold my hand.” As long as we did so, we not only kept all the rules, but we enjoyed a warm and loving relationship with our fathers. (I owe this illustration to Don Matzat in his book Christ Esteem).
In a similar way, with his message of love and faith, our heavenly Father wants to take us by the hand and say, “Why don’t you come over here, hold my hand, and stay close to my side.” What a blessing to enjoy such a warm and loving relationship with the heavenly Father! What a joy that he not only expresses his love to us, but allows it to be part of our own lives! We may know or may be learning his instructions, too. But as long as we are holding his hand and receiving his love in faith, his own love will be the source of ours as we love one another.