March 2, 2024


1 John 4:16-21 - 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. 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. 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. We love because he first loved us. 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.


This passage from 1 John 4 emphasizes God's perfect love for us and how we are called to reflect that love to others. John reminds us that God loved us first and calls us to love one another. He makes it clear that loving God and loving people cannot be separated - if we claim to love God but hate our brother, we are liars. John starts by highlighting the core truth that God is love. His very nature and character is defined by perfect, sacrificial love. He showed us the depths of His love by sending Jesus to die for our sins while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). This amazing, lavish love gives us confidence for judgment day, because Jesus stands in our place. As God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ. There is no fear in love because Jesus bore the punishment we deserved. Since God first loved us in this radical way, our love for Him overflows into love for others. We love because He first loved us. The more we understand the depths of His love demonstrated at the cross, the more our hard hearts are softened to love others. Our love for the unseen God will be evidenced by love for the people He places in our path each day. If we claim faith in God but hate other people, our claim is false. Loving God and loving people cannot be separated.


As I reflect on this passage, I'm reminded how easy it is to have a superficial understanding of God's love that does not actually transform how I live. I can glibly say "God loves me" without truly grasping what that love cost Him at the cross and how undeserving I am. I can sing songs about love on Sunday and then completely fail to love challenging people during the week by avoiding them or gossiping about them. This passage makes clear that the only appropriate response to being radically loved by God is to actively love others with the same kind of sacrificial love. And my human love will always fall short. But as I grow in understanding God's love shown to me on the cross, I can't help but be changed to see people through eyes of grace and to love the unlovable people God puts in my life. His love softens my hard heart over time. Who is hard for me to love right now? Do I see them as God sees them - as broken image bearers equally in need of grace? God forgive me for my self-righteous judgment. Give me eyes to see people as You see them and to love them with the love You have lavished on me. Your love is transforming when I truly grasp it. Help me to rest in Your love for me so Your love can overflow to others.


Father God, thank You for loving me first while I was still a sinner. I confess that I do not fully grasp the depths of Your love shown to me at the cross. I sing songs about love without truly understanding what Your love cost You. Forgive me for receiving Your lavish gift so lightly. I desperately need Your love to soften my hard, judgmental heart. Help me comprehend Your love so I can love others with the same grace and mercy You have given me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours so I can see people through eyes of love, not judgment. Thank You for transforming me through Your love. In Jesus' name, amen.

Generated Image(s)

United in God's embrace

United in God's embrace

This image was generated by AI from the devotion text.