It may be a little early for Valentines, but love is a universal celebration every day in the life of a Christian.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I want us to think about this statement. It’s what is called “a cause and effect.” Look it up and you’ll find varying definitions but most have this root answer: A cause and effect is a relationship between two things (or people) whereas one is partly responsible for the actions or result of the other.
So here in 1 John 4, we have a cause and we have an effect. The cause is that God love us first. It is who He is. He can’t deny Himself. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Here’s another one: God so loved that He gave. Cause and effect.
And as I hope you are beginning to see, one cause and effect can create many others. God so loved the world that He sent His Son. And because of this action (cause) we see the effect He desired: that we would love.
My favorite translation has always been the New King James. And many manuscripts like it read 1 John 4:19 as quoted above: “We love Him because He first loved us.” But if you’ll notice how the word “Him” is in italics, it’s because that is how the manuscript writers let us know that this word was not in the original text. Many times words like this are added for clarification.
I only point this out because in this case, it reads differently if that word isn’t added: “We love because He first loved us.” In other words, we don’t just love HIM because He loved us. We LOVE (period). Because God loved us, our receipt of His love causes us to love (effect). And it almost insinuates that we were incapable of loving until we received His love.
I believe this is true.
I think I thought I knew what love was before becoming a Christian. I certainly loved my parents, siblings, others. But did I really? I realize now that I loved them with my selfish love, but there’s a love that God gives us that is anything but selfish. In fact, we’re told in 1 Corinthians that God’s love is:
…patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (verses 4-8).
These are the qualities (effect) of GOD’S LOVE in us. I may have loved others before Christ, but not in this way. My human love was contingent on my feelings at the moment, if I liked or disliked your actions toward me. I was certainly touchy and fretful and easily provoked. I didn’t always believe the best in others. I waited to see if their actions and words lined up. Etc, etc, etc.
Can you see the difference? We LOVE because He FIRST loved us.
Cause and effect.
So my encouragement to you today is this: Receive His love. Let His cause be your effect.