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God's Love

“Love is from God.” “God is love.” “He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation for our sins.” “We love because He first loved us.” “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 Jn 4:7-5:3). Additionally, the characteristics of love are defined in Scripture (1 Cor 13:4-8). Surely to study the nature of God’s love will help to understand both love as a virtue and the Divine nature.

1. God’s love maintains accountability. Many today think that love looks at sinfulness and just ignores it. They confuse longsuffering with compromise and patience with softness. In so doing, they remove the accountability for sin from the sinner. God is love, yet God still holds every person accountable for his actions. And God still judges good and evil (Ezek 18:20; 1 Cor 3:13-15). Love does not excuse. It does not shift the blame to others. It does not redefine sin as O.K. Love lays the accountability for sin squarely at the feet of the sinner himself. Ezek 18:20; "The person who sins will die.”

2. God’s love chastens. Love always chastens (Prov 13:24). Because God loves, He disciplines and scourges every son (Heb 12:6-11). This is why Christians have to endure persecutions and tribulations (Heb 12:3-5). But why does love chasten? Love, by the very nature of love, does what is best for others. The key is what is best; not what is the easiest! So God, who is love, looks to make the person better, stronger, wiser, and more spiritual. God holds those He loves to accountability and He disciplines those whom He loves (Heb 12:6).

3. God’s love planned on how to accomplish forgiveness. Love looked for a way to forgive (John 3:16). Forgiveness is the ultimate expression of the great love of God (Rom 5:8-10; Eph 2:4-6). The love accomplished at Calvary was in God’s plan for forgiving from the beginning. Love makes a way to forgive. Love worked out a scheme whereby forgiveness was accomplished. Praise God for his love!

Do we have the same kind of love that God has? Do we work within the plan of God or do we build roadblocks that hinder the forgiveness of others? If we say “I will never forgive,” we demonstrate a lack of love. If we build barriers to reconciliation so that we can feel justified in our failure to forgive, love does not motivate us. If we work and give like God did, so that forgiveness is easy to gain, then we are sharing in His love. Love says to the sinner, “Here is God’s plan for forgiveness.”

4. Love builds family relationships (1 John 3:1). God, in his love, sacrificed His only begotten Son upon the cross in order to take those who were his enemies and make them his children. So John exclaims “how great a love!” Love demands that family members treat one another like family (1 John 3:10-11). Surely love between family members never ever takes advantage nor abuses the family relationship. When church members take undue advantage of our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not love!

5. Love shares things. (1 John 3:17-18). Love shares things with a “brother in need”. A brother in need may need (1) help with medical bills, (2) a ride to church, or (3) help with educational expenses. He or she (4) may be a lonely shut-in needing companionship, (5) one unemployed needing groceries, (6) an elderly person needing personal help, or (7) one discouraged who needs a pat on the back. Giving to a “brother in need” must not facilitate (aid and abet) sinful habits, or give aid to the lazy. Laziness is a sin! (2 Thess 3:10). Again, nowhere are Christians expected to give that which they do not have (2 Cor 8:12). An important principle of love in this passage is where one opens his heart to the brother in need or closes his heart against him (1 Jn 3:17-18).

6. Love gives itself. God loved and God gave (John 3:16; 15:13). The Macedonian brethren gave of their own accord because they “first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Cor 8:3-5). Giving themselves to the Lord expelled selfishness from their hearts. Selflessness is the proof of the sincerity of love itself (2 Cor 8:8).

In conclusion, let us all learn two lessons:

(1) to appreciate love as the essence of God’s character, and

(2) to love just as God is love. 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”

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