“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he
loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10
Have you seen people who brag
about how principled they are and how any disagreement they have with anyone is
not personal but based on principle?
I am one of those people. There
are values and belief systems that I hold to and defend so passionately. Call them
But there are also people God
has placed in my path to love so passionately.
Here is the civil war: I find within
me an ongoing conflict, whether to love my ideals or the people God has placed
in my life. I always end up picking these filthy ideals. How tragic!
Ideals are the highest level of
self-love. When we advance them, we are in a way telling the world that we love
ourselves more and we are the fulcrum on which this world spins.
Whenever I am in a situation
where I need to love and serve my neighbor, my values always come in the way. And
when I pick them over people, I fail to love them and continue to exhibit the
sin in me that glorifies me instead of glorifying God.
Am not suggesting we drop our
principles, am instead suggesting that we ought to love people more, and hold
them above our cherished ideals.
Whenever we put our ideals
before people, what we are doing is planting hurdles after the finish line. What
was our problem and has now been defeated by Christ is what we bring back to
manipulate and switch people—human regulations.
From our portion of scripture
this week, St. John has a lot to say about our love for others. There are four
things that I want to point out:
1. We are Vertically Justified
The only justifying love is God’s
love for us, not our love for him. The love of God reaching down from heaven in
the Word incarnate—Jesus Christ—is our sole means of salvation; not our love that
falters to reach up to Him.
2. Love Flows from Gratitude
St. John opens this section of
scripture in 1 John 4:7 by calling us to love our neighbour. It is also important to note that this imperative is
groundless, as all imperatives in scripture. The only grounding it has is later
on when John says “…not that we have loved God but that he loved us…”
1 John 4:10, and in verse 19 when he writes: “We love because he first loved
What he is saying is this: God’s love for us (not our love
for God or other people) is the fuel that powers us to love our neighbour. That love flows out of a
sense of gratitude for what God has done for you and me.
out and Up
If we are to genuinely and recklessly love our neighbour, we
ought to find the reason outside of us and up in God Himself and what He has
done for us.
The desire in us is so inclined towards doing evil than it
is inclined towards doing what God has called us to do, therefore, we ought only
to look to the one who has called us. He is our only motivation to look beyond
our filthy ideals and go on to identify the needs of our neighbour and see how
we can meet them.
4. “Me” is
out of the Equation
In this entire section of scripture, John is committed to
killing the demon of self. He gives it no breathing space at all. The countful
times he talks about “us” and “we” is when he is talking about God’s love which
has been lavished on us.
Therefore the plea to “love ourselves”, “please ourselves”, “find
friends that add value to us”, “delete negative people from our Facebook friends
list” and so on that the life coaches always blab about are flashed down the
The “Me” is in Christ, and everything that I desire and long
for has been fully, finally and freely delivered to me by God in Christ Jesus. I
need nothing from anyone, much less the world! But I will give everything because
I already have everything in Christ. So are you.