Which comes first, God loving us or us loving God?
We’ve been saying for the last few days that love is super-duper important. Yesterday we said that God IS love, and we OUGHT to love each other. But how are we able to love each other? What makes our love possible? Here’s how John would answer that question.
John 4:16-19. 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.
We love because God first loved us.
God’s love for us always comes first. Before any of us even existed God loved us. His love for us is what made him want to create us. And then, after we sinned in the Garden of Eden, it was his love for us that protected us and covered over our sins until Jesus could come and die for them on the cross.
Sometimes we think that it is our love for God that makes him love us, or at least love us more than he already does. But that is never, ever true. Our love for God doesn’t earn us God’s love in return. God’s love for us is what makes us want to love him in return.
And why would we want to love God? John gives us a bunch of reasons throughout this letter, but right here in these verses he says because God’s love removes our fear of punishment. Have you ever “loved” someone, or been kind to someone, just because you were afraid that if you didn’t you would be punished?
Mom: “You better be nice to your little sister or else.”
Dad: “You kids need to love each other or Jesus will be angry.”
Hopefully your parents don’t say these kinds of things. Why? Because there is a far better reason to love and it doesn’t involve punishment or fear at all. IT involves letting yourself be loved by God. When we know that we are loved with unconditional love, love that sticks around no matter what, then we have the power to love others too, because we know that we will never be alone. We will never be without everything that we need. We will never run out of the kindness of Jesus. God will always love us first so that we can always love him and love others.
Because of Jesus we were loved first by God.
With Jesus we can love like God.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Watch this ending scene from Frozen together. Elsa was loved first by Anna, then she could learn to love like Anna. God’s love for us works the same way.
You always love first. You take away all my fear of punishment. You make it possible for me to love others just like you do. Help me to love from your love.
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