He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (emphasis added)
This does not merely tell us that God "is loving" or that "God loves" but that God IS love!
Theses verses certainly tell us that God is the very definition of love, and that love is of great importance in the sight of God.
There are also some false conclusions we can jump to concerning the principle that "God is love!"
1. God is ONLY love
Love is one of the attributes of God. These attributes are ALL part of God's very nature. For example, the Bible tells us also that "Our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29) The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the trinity and is called "The Spirit of Truth." (John 16:13)
Therefore God is not only love. He also is also an all-consuming fire and truth!
We err when we try to separate God's attribute of love from His many other attributes!
2. Misguided Definitions of "love."
Is it wrong to love? Of course not! But attempting to love may be more problematic than we think!
The world is full of false ideas of what it means to love. We all have our own code that we live by concerning love. Yet God's thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Jesus taught that if we love only those who love us, we will not be rewarded by God and that "even the tax collectors do that." (Matthew 5:46)
Paul taught that we may even give all we have to feed the poor and give our bodies to be burned - and yet do so completely apart from love! (1 Corinthians 13:3)
3. Failing to Reverse the Truths Found in 1 John 4:8
If God is love - then it is equally true that "Love is God!"
This is not meant in the sense of that old Beatle song, "All you need is love," or that love is supreme above all, or all that love is all that matters to God. The sense is that genuine love must be defined by who God is. It cannot be defined on its own - as though we all had some common understanding of what love really is - because we do not!
Love is not what we humans say it is. Of course, we can agree on some of the most obvious elements of love. For example, if I walk up to someone, and knock them on the head with a baseball bat and/or steal their money - most would agree that would not be a loving act.
Yet even in such a presumably obvious example, things can become cloudy. For example, if a man is shooting innocent victims, we may need to hit him on the head with a baseball bat. In that case, stopping him would be an act of love toward future victims.
We do not all live by the same codes. Stealing from a wealthy corporation might seem acceptable to some. To others beating a person of a certain race might seem justified - because, after all, "all those people are the same."
Whether the Bible states that God is love or the reverse - that love is God, it means the same thing - that love can only be defined by who God is - by His Holy definitions and standards. The morals and standards of culture change regularly - almost daily it seems in our day. What was considered unacceptable and immoral many years ago is now, not only acceptable - but considered moral!
Therefore, when we attempt to love, we cannot be successful unless we learn how God loves - and it is very different from the ways that man loves. God hates certain sins. If we ignore or even, encourage those sins - we are in direct conflict with God's justice and therefore - with God's kind of love! Instead, we are living out our own personal definitions of love - which fall woefully short.
There is no way to love as God loves unless we sacrifice all of our preconceived ideas of love on the altar and allow God to burn them up!
If we humble ourselves in this way, He will teach us His new, infinitely greater and infinitely transcendent love!
TO KNOW GOD INTIMATELY AND DILIGENTLY STUDY HIS WORD PAYS GREAT DIVIDENDS IN THE HUMAN HEART!
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