Introduction: The word “love” means so many things today that
sometimes it is almost meaningless. What does it mean to have a God
who loves us? What is required of us when we are called upon to “love
our neighbor?” What kind of love is expected of us? Is love a
substitute for obedience? Let’s dive into our lesson about God’s love
and see what we can learn!
- Love’s First Cause
- Read 1 John 4:7&19. Why do we have the capacity for love?
(We have the ability to love because God first loved us.
Love comes from God.)
- In what way(s) did God love us? (Read 1 John 4:9-10.
Jesus gave up His comfort and His life for us. This
sacrifice allows us to “live through Him.”)
- Read 1 John 4:8. John says that knowing God causes us to
be able to love others. If we don’t love others we don’t
know God. Why is that? (Knowing the sacrifice that God
made for us changes our attitude. Sometimes little things
can change your attitude. A number of years ago I was in
the bathroom with my boss. There was a waste paper towel
on the floor, which he picked up and threw in the trash.
Although I was a neat person, and always put my waste
paper in the trash, I did not usually pick up the litter
left on the bathroom floor by other slobs. Seeing what my
boss did made such an impression on me that I started
picking up litter that I saw on the floor. His actions
changed my attitude.)
- Read 1 John 4:11. Why is this statement true? Why does
God’s love for us help us to love others? (This is much
more than the example that my boss gave me by picking up
litter. In that situation I simply did what he did. In the
case of God loving us, it is a much greater thing for the
King of Kings to love us than it is for us to love those
who are like us.)
- Our Love For Others
- Read 1 John 4:20. What do you think about John’s logic?
- What does being able to see someone have to do with
- Is it your experience that it is easier to love some
people once you get to know them?
- Do you find that it is more difficult to love God
because you have not met Him?
- Would it help you to love God if you knew what
He looked like?
- Do you know someone who had a friendly smile when you
first met, but when you get to know them you realized
they are really vicious?
- If you answered “yes,” to the question just
above, then what is John’s point? (I think John
is making two points. First, he says that God’s
love for us is the source of our love for
others. Second, he suggests that love comes from
a relationship. If we have the love of God in
our heart, we will show that love to those with
whom we have a relationship. If we do not love
those around us, then we do not have the love in
our heart that comes from God.)
- Let’s jump back to 1 John 4:12 because it is related to
what we have just discussed. How can we make God’s love
complete? Explain how that can happen. How can you make
God’s love complete in the life of someone else? How can
you make God’s love complete in your own life? (This a
continuation of this idea of loving a God whom we cannot
see. If we show love towards others, this helps them and
us to understand the love of God. We are God’s agents to
show love towards others. We are the “face” of God’s love.
Showing love to others also teaches us about God’s love.
Ask any parent if parenting taught them anything about
God. The answer will be “yes.”)
- Read 1 John 4:21. Is our love for those around us a test
of our love for God?
- What command do you think John is quoting? (Matthew
22:37-40: Love Lord with all our heart and our
neighbor as ourselves.)
- Let’s jump ahead a chapter in 1 John. Read 1 John 5:1.
What does it mean to be born of God?
- If we are born of God, are we then children of God?
- What child is being referred to at the end of verse
1? Is this referring to Jesus or is this referring to
everyone born of God? (I think it refers both to
Jesus and to everyone born of God.)
- John has now suggested a new reason for us to love
others. What is it? (That we are all related to each
other as children of God. If you, child, love your
father, then you will love your brother or sister.)
- Is John’s statement about family relationships
true in your experience? (I don’t think so. Just
because you love your father doesn’t mean you
have great affection for your brothers and
- If John’s statement is not true in the
abstract, what is his point? (We only
become a child of God by believing and
accepting the sacrifice made by Jesus on
our behalf. As we, brothers and sisters,
accept that sacrifice, we should have an
unselfish, loving attitude towards others
who made the same decision.)
- Our Love For God
- Read 1 John 5:3-4. In the introduction I suggested that
love can mean so many things that it can become
meaningless. Here, John gives a very specific definition
of love for God. What is it? (Obeying God’s commands.)
- Do you agree with that definition of love for God?
- If not, what definition would you substitute?
- Parents, do you agree with this definition of love
when it comes to your children – those who obey love
you? Those who don’t obey don’t love you? (Assuming
the parent’s commands are as reasonable as God’s
commands, I agree completely. A child who disobeys
loves himself more than he loves his parents. No
parent wants to feel unloved, and therefore this may
be a hard message, but I think it is true for both
parents and God.)
- Why do parents give commands to their children?
(Because they love their children and want the
best for them.)
- How can John say that obeying God is not burdensome?
If we are out there proving our love to God,
shouldn’t it be heavy lifting? (You can look at verse
4 in two ways: all the children of God overcome the
world or becoming a child of God overcomes the world.
The first says that overcoming the world is a test to
show you are a child of God. The second says that the
act of becoming a child is also the act of overcoming
the world. Since John says our “faith” is the victory
over the world, I think the second interpretation is
correct. Accepting Jesus by faith, triggers both
God’s grace to us and an attitude of obedience on our
part. If we realize that God gave us His commandments
because He loved us and they are in our best interest
– well, that certainly lessens the burden of
- Read 1 John 5:5. What does verse 5 do to help us
understand verse 2? (Verse 5 makes verse 2 plain for us.
It makes clear the answer to the discussion we just had –
that belief in Jesus is the key to overcoming the world
and obeying God’s commands.)
- Let’s skip down to 1 John 5:10. What does it mean to have
Jesus’ testimony in our heart? (This is the attitude I was
writing about earlier. Becoming a child of God is not just
a verbal thing, it is a change of attitude. Earlier in
the quarter we learned that this change of attitude is
- Read 1 John 5:11-12. In addition to giving us love and His
Son, what else does God offer to give us? (Eternal life!)
- Friend, do you want love and life? God offers these
wonderful things to those who believe in His Son, repent
and obey. Why not decide to follow God today?
- Next Week: Loyalties