I see perfect love as a combination of all three directions of love; God’s love for us (which is sure), our love for Him and our love for others. Loving others is the last piece of the puzzle.
The first two are relatively not hard to come by, but the last one is where we tend to fail. If we must be perfect in love, we have to complete the puzzle, by loving one another. I particularly like this chapter of the bible because it is plain and clear. The message is simple. Our God is love, love is of God and we are called to love. 1 John 4:7-21
God’s love for us
‘God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.’ 1 John 4:9-10 NLT
God saw that we were dead in sin, living under the slavery of sin and Satan. God graciously gave us the gift of His son (the gift of love) that we might be made alive and live through Him. He gave us without asking us, He gave us believing we would receive it, He gave us not for anything we did or didn’t do. He gave His Son to people who didn’t even love Him, people who were not yet born, and people who persecuted him.
Sometimes we find it hard to receive or accept this love. Never think you are too unworthy to be loved, or that you don’t deserve to be loved (that’s just you judging yourself and meting out the punishment you think you deserve). Put your trust in God’s love, there’s no fear in love. God loves you.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love… 1 John 4:16 NLT
Just to throw this in here, about the different shades of God’s love. I know it’s nice to sit and think of how wonderful God is and you get all mushy, but one shade of his love that we sometimes don’t like to see is the part where he chastens us. But I love that the correction, rebuke is simply because of His love. And truthfully if you’ve never gotten chastened or rebuked by your earthly parents you may need to question that love. So if you got chastened or are getting chastened, rejoice…God loves you. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:5-6 NLT
Our love for God
We receive His love by faith, and we also love Him by faith, because no man has seen Him. We loved God because He first loved us. He loved us in our sin and our mess and still chose to reach out to us through His son. There are also different manifestations of our love for God; it’s not just by saying it with our mouths. We love what He loves and hate what He hates. Repentance from sin, believing and accepting Jesus into your heart is the first step to reciprocating His love. Same way loving others as He gave us command is a way of showing that we love Him.
And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:21 NLT
We did not do anything to receive His love, so others should not have to do anything to receive our love.
Our love for others
‘Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.’ 1 John 4:11 AMPC
The same way we received God’s love is the same way He wants us to give His love to others. We did not do anything to receive His love, so others should not have to do anything to receive our love.
To become perfect in love we need to abide in love by practically living it out (they say practice makes perfect). When we love others we are made perfect in love. In God’s eyes we contradict ourselves sometimes. We’re always very quick to say Lord I love you and then God says,’ how can you hate your brother right there with you, who you can see and then tell me you love me who you cannot see?’ God doesn’t buy that. If we truly love God, we obey his commandments and this is to love others.
No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! 1 John 4:12 AMPC
Living in love, means we live in God and that God lives in us. This is how Jesus lived, and if we live like this, we can have confidence before God. When we walk perfectly in love, we are not afraid, not afraid of judgement or punishment or death or persecution, because you know that you are doing what pleases God.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. 1 John 4:16-18 NLT
Yes it’s hard to love sometimes, some people are just not nice, they take advantage of your kindness and all, but they do that to God also, we did that to God also at some time and He didn’t stop loving us. So we don’t put a distinction, we love whether by our judgement they deserve to be loved or not (besides who are we to judge anyway). Many people that we see sometimes who seem, or who we judge to be undeserving of love, are those who need it the most (the armed robber, the prostitute, the mean boss, the rude cashier, the annoying neighbour or housemate). I watched Woodlawn recently and it was a beautiful show of how God’s love transforms hearts in a world full of hatred. Love can change people in a way that words can’t.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly, what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG
Unbelievers can’t love the way God asks us to, but God has given us (believers) of His Spirit which dwells in us. We can Love because God dwells in us through His Spirit and brings forth the fruit of Love in us. You have the ability to love, because the Spirit of God dwells in you.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 1 John 4:13
Love speaks the truth and if we truly love others we must tell them about the gift of Jesus and salvation.
P.S while loving others don’t forget to love yourself too.
My name is Jumoke. I am a child of God, found and saved by God’s grace and unfailing mercy. I am learning and growing in God day by day and I happen to be a medical student also. I enjoy my time with God and listening to good music.