An additional theme of love emerges in chapter 3. We know this by the simple observation of repetition. Nine times love is mentioned in this chapter alone while the theme of knowledge continues.
Knowledge and love are inseparable. You cannot love what you do not know. Imagine someone saying they love pizza and you ask them what their favorite is and they reply, “I’m not sure. I’ve never eaten pizza before.” That doesn’t make sense. You can’t love pizza if you do not know what it tastes like. Or someone walks up to you on your way into the office and they say, “I love you” to which you will say, “I’m sorry, do I know you?” That’s strange precisely because the person doesn’t know you. Love and knowledge are inseparable.
The word used in this chapter for love is (ἀγάπη) agape which means “especially of love as based on evaluation and choice, a matter of will and action.” This definition checks several boxes: knowledge to make an evaluation to choose to respond in a manner of one’s will (or desire) that results in some sort of action.
How would you define God’s great love from 3:1? This love was given and is seen in that He was willing to claim us as His children. The act of giving reminds me of John 3:16 where God loved the world by giving His Son. The act of calling us His children makes me think of these verses: (Jn. 1:12-13) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
What makes this difficult for us to understand is the fact that God knew EVERYTHING about us! That’s is amazing. We were enemies of God who are now called His own children. The clearest image is that of adoption. The Father comes to the orphanage and brings you into His family. Wow!
When you are in God’s family, it is supposed to be obvious. It’s obvious whose family you are in because we begin acting like our Father. We do things like He does. We oppose things that our Father does not approve of. That means we need to know Him and to know Him is to know His ways.
Those who are in God’s family love God’s family. And this love isn’t just simply saying that you love your brothers and sisters, though that is true, but also we demonstrate action…acts of love towards them based on the truth. And John goes so far to say that if we do not love our brothers and sisters then we are not children of God.
I would admit that I can be hard to love at times (maybe all the time). And I would admit there are brothers and sisters that make it hard to love them. But, I don’t know everything there is to know about them. I think our love for each other would increase if we took the time to know each other. I mean God knows the depths of me (the worst of me) and He loves me.
Let me end with this, beloved: (1 Jn. 3:23) And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
- Intentionally seek to learn more about a fellow believer this week
- Ask the Lord to help you with this
- Bring new people into your circle of friends
- Be genuinely interested in their life story
- Rejoice in the gifts God has given you
- His Son who laid down his life for you
- and each other