My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. 8 God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. 9 God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. 10 Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.
12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.
13 God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us.14 God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. 15 God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God 16 and are sure that God loves us.
God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. 17 If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment.18 A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love.
19 We love because God loved us first. 20 But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see?21 The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!” 1 John 4:7-21 (CEV)
Did you read all that? Yes, it was 15 verses and that may seem pretty long but it may be the best and most important words you read this week. And the CEV translation may be one that you aren’t familiar but when I read an unfamiliar translation of a familiar passage it makes me slow down and think about the words passing through my brain. So I encourage you to take the time to read this whole passage and maybe get really intense and read it again from your familiar Bible translation.
As I am writing this, most surfaces outside my home are encased in ice. The porches outside both doors have a solid sheet of ice on them. I would need to pour warm water over my car doors to get them open as ice has crusted over the hinges and locks. This is strange weather for Florida!
The visual example outdoors has caused me to ask myself: Do I have a warm, compassionate heart or has it become encased in ice or stone? When I see a homeless person on a street corner am I moved with love or judgment? What is my reaction to someone who has different political views than I do? Or different faith beliefs? What if they are a different race?
Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all my heart, mind and strength. He said the second was to love my neighbor like I loved myself (Matthew 22:37-40). And then He clarified that my neighbor could be someone that I had identified as an enemy (Luke 10) and my family would not necessarily be a blood relation but whoever did the will of God (Matthew 12:47-50). There is no wiggle room here to make God’s commands to His children more palatable and easier.
So let me read John’s words again. Let them soak into my heart and spirit like a marinade. And if I think I can’t do this? Well that is a true assessment because I need God to take my heart of stone and replace it with a loving, compassionate heart of flesh.
Holy Love written and sung by Andy Park