Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10, CSB)
Why Should Christians Love One Another?
I am the type of person who must know the reason behind certain tasks, ideas, or instructions. At the workplace, I want to know why we are carrying out a certain task in a certain way, especially if there is a better and more efficient way to execute it.
In my high-school algebra class, I had to know why an equation worked a certain way in order to understand how to execute the equation, which often led to more confusion than success. I am a curious person who likes to know the “why” of everything that I do and am told to do. To put it another way, I like to know the reason or reasons behind things.
Consequently, when I read Jesus’ command to love one another in John 13:2, I naturally ask myself, “Why?”, or, to put it another way once more, “What are the reasons behind loving one another?”
Luckily for us, God provides an answer to this question in 1 John 4:7-10. Not only does God answer the “why” of love, but He also gives us three reasons why we should love others.
Be sure to read 1 John 4:7-10 before we dive in and hopefully get “blessed up” together.
Love Because Love is From God
The first reason we must love one another is that love is from God Himself. You will notice that John begins with a general exhortation to his audience to love others in verse seven.
Love in the Church is a common theme in 1 John, which likely indicates that there was a crisis of love in the Churches that John was writing to. So how does John address this crisis? By encouraging them to love one another because love is from God and is the mark of a genuine believer, which is the reason John says, “because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God” (1 John 4:7).
That is, God is the ultimate source of love and those who are His children, those who have been born again through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, will naturally love those around them. We must love because love is from God and we are His children.
Love because God is Love
The next reason we must love is that God Himself is love.
Here John further drives home the idea that those who are born of God will love those around them by stating it in the negative. How could we not love those around us if we truly know God and have experienced His love?
Knowing God Who is Himself love ought to produce love in those who know Him. Love expressed is the natural consequence of knowing God, because God is love.
Before we move on to the next reason, I think it is important to understand exactly what “God is love” means, as this attribute of God is commonly abused in Christian culture.
Love is an attribute of God and is an essential feature of His character. However, this does not mean that love is God’s dominating attribute. It does not mean that God is simply a big loving teddy bear in the sky who desires to hug everyone and ignore their sins.
God’s love is perfect and holy. His love will never step out of line with His other attributes.
For example, His love will never do something that is unholy. God’s love will never compromise His justice and righteousness, which means He will not excuse or ignore your sin. That is why He sent His Son to die for your sins and mine. Because He is perfectly loving, holy, good, and just. His holiness and justice require sin to be paid for and punished while His love and mercy bring Him to pay the price for sin Himself on the cross.
Friends, the cross is not just a loving act, it is an expression of His whole character! This is our God who is Himself love, and the more you know His character and nature the more you will be stirred to love those around you!
Love because God Loves you Immeasurably
Finally, we must love one another because God has displayed His love for us through His Son.
We see this specifically in verses nine and ten, as John writes that God’s love was revealed in the sending of His Son and that love consists in God sending His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. What amazing and immeasurable love this is!
In verse nine John declares that God’s love was revealed or displayed in the sending of His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. It is because of this that salvation is made possible for those who believe in Jesus Christ, and according to John this act of love is how God’s love has been displayed for all to see.
The cross is the fullest expression of God’s love, and further, is the fullest expression of God’s character.
In verse ten John makes a statement about what love consists of. John states that love is not that we loved God, but that He loves us and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
The word atoning here means to remove guilt or blame. Christ died to atone for, or to remove the guilt, shame, and blame of sin for those who believe in Him. This is the purest and fullest expression of love. It is selfless and sacrificial. It is beautiful and bloody, majestic and humble.
Therefore, we must love others, because God has loved us abundantly and immeasurably. Here lies the final reason we must love those around us, God’s love for us. We love, because love is from God, because God is love, and because God has loved us beyond measure!