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!

  1. Love’s First Cause

    1. 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.)

      1. 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.”)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

  2. Our Love For Others

    1. Read 1 John 4:20. What do you think about John’s logic?

      1. What does being able to see someone have to do with

      2. Is it your experience that it is easier to love some
        people once you get to know them?

      3. Do you find that it is more difficult to love God
        because you have not met Him?

        1. Would it help you to love God if you knew what
          He looked like?

      4. 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?

        1. 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.)

    2. 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.”)

    3. Read 1 John 4:21. Is our love for those around us a test
      of our love for God?

      1. What command do you think John is quoting? (Matthew
        22:37-40: Love Lord with all our heart and our
        neighbor as ourselves.)

    4. Let’s jump ahead a chapter in 1 John. Read 1 John 5:1.
      What does it mean to be born of God?

      1. If we are born of God, are we then children of God?

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

        1. 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

          1. 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.)

  3. Our Love For God

    1. 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.)

      1. Do you agree with that definition of love for God?

        1. If not, what definition would you substitute?

      2. 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.)

        1. Why do parents give commands to their children?
          (Because they love their children and want the
          best for them.)

      3. 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

    2. 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.)

    3. 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
      called repentance.)

    4. 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!)

    5. 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?

  4. Next Week: Loyalties