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Perfected Love

There is a cost to love.

“His love has been perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12, NKJV) 

Love cannot be reclusive. It cannot stay indoors, barricaded in our hearts. It cannot remain a hermit isolated and insulated from the humanity around us or even simply in cloistered communion with God. 

John particularly stresses that we are to love one another. He reasons this way: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love is other-oriented and outward-facing. 

God is the model for our love. How did God love us? By sending His Son to live and die for us. The eternal Son of God veiled His divine glory in true and full humanity so that He might identify with us, stand in our place as a substitute, and give His life in ransom for us. The love God describes for us and desires of us cannot work remotely. It must be exercised on-site, not only in word but in deed, not in mere sentiment but in sacrifice. There is a cost to love. 

John follows up by saying, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). What does seeing God have to do with loving another? Again, we look to Jesus. In His Gospel, John writes: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). 

The sense of Jesus declaring the Father is that of making Him fully known. The unseen God becomes visible not only in the Son but in the mission on which the Son was sent. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. 

What that means for us is that when we love, sacrificing our time or our resources or even ourselves for the welfare of others, we are loving as we have been loved and displaying the glory of our God and workmanship of His grace. 

John goes so far as to say that if we love one another God abides in us. Love is a telltale sign that our faith is functioning according to new life in Christ. By it we gain assurance of our salvation. 

More than that, John tells us that His love has been perfected in us. John does not say “being perfected,” but “stands perfected.” In other words, the love of God bound up in Christ has found its mark. That love has taken permanent residence in our hearts and will venture out each day to minister that love to others. 

How can we set an agenda for the workdays of loving the brethren?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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