Sometimes when we hear something over and over, words lose power. Perfect love casts out fear. God is love. We love because he first loved us. To my knowledge, very few passages in the Bible have as many common Christian phrases as today’s does. It would be easy to brush over these words from John as cliché, or overused. But when we meditate on the meaning of these words, we find some of the most powerful statements in all of Scripture about what it means to be in relationship with a loving God.
- How have you experienced the love of God?
READ THE WORD: 1 JOHN 4:15-21 (ESV)
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 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. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- How would verse 16 change its meaning without being preceded by verse 15?
- What are some characteristics of those who abide in God?
- How does the perfect love of God cast out fear (vs. 18)? How has the love of God changed your relationship with fear?
- How is God teaching you to be more loving? How are you responding?
RESPOND TO GOD
The ideas of love, fearlessness, and confidence are generally popular. But this kind of love—this radical, tangible, life-changing, eternal love—is a product of confessing that Jesus is the Son of God (vs. 15). Once we recognize Jesus as our Lord, John says that we will abide in God, and he in us. I wish I could wrap my brain around this idea, but I can’t. It’s too grand. Too magnificent. All I know is that God gifts us with a love and a purpose that makes us a walking contrast to the rest of the world, and provides us with confidence that he will not forget us on the day of judgment.
- Ask God how you can grow in love towards him and others, and for the courage to follow through.