By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
God’s love is without limits. Not only should His love be shown to fellow Christians, but it should extend to all people around the world.
I. THE PRIORITY OF GOD’S LOVE (vv. 7-10) God is love (v. 8). He loves the world so much that He sent His beloved Son to die for every person. The root of all God does is love. His love is unconditional and impartial. He loves every person regardless of what that person does or doesn’t do, how he dresses, how he looks, or how he believes.
God’s love for us was settled at the cross where He became the atoning sacrifice for our sins (v. 10). Since His love is the most costly of all loves, we should never question His love for us. God makes His love our priority by instructing us to obey the Great Commandment and, above all else, to put on love daily (Matthew 22:37, Colossians 3:14). In comparing faith, hope and love in I Corinthians 13, Paul says the greatest is love.
II. THE POWER OF GOD’S LOVE (I John 11-13) God sent Jesus into the world so that we might live through Him (v. 9). Our loving one another as God loves is the proof that “God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (v. 12). How can we love the unlovely, the rude, the stubborn, the slanderer, the liar, the atheist, the swindler, the betrayer, as well as our enemies and persecutors? We can’t! God loves them through us with His power.
Not only can we love everyone with His power, but we “ought to” (v. 11). The word ought means to owe. Paul said in Romans 13:8a, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.” We are to pay our debt of love to every person we meet by yielding to His power. Joseph exemplified the power of love when he forgave and accepted his brothers who had betrayed him.
III. THE PRACTICE OF GOD’S LOVE (I John 19-21) We are commanded to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked (I John 2:6) and to love one another as Jesus loved us (John 15:12). We love not because of the qualities we see in another person, but just because he is a person.
God is invisible, but He becomes visible as we manifest His love, not to those who are easy to love, but to those who are nasty, stubborn, critical, mean and selfish. God says that if we hate anyone, then we cannot love Him (I John 4:20).
If we love God, He will channel His love through us and we will deliberately perform acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and consideration. We will return good for evil. God’s love is supernatural and transformational.
If we will acquiesce to His command to love, then we will make God known to an unbelieving world. Our manifesting His love to others is the proof He abides in us and characterizes us as His disciples. His love is so powerful that it moves us to miraculously forgive anyone who may try to kill us. For example, while Stephen was being stoned, He cried out to God, “Do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). Indeed, God’s love is the greatest love of all! B&R