1 John 4:7–11
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Love, love, love. All you need is love. This passage uses the word love eleven times. All eleven of them are variations on the Greek noun agapé (ἀγάπη) or its verbal form agapao (ἀγαπάω).
While agapé and agapao can refer to affection, they are more about love in action—like the definition given by Olaf in the movie Frozen — “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.”
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with the best known use of agapao in scripture.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” — Matthew 22:39b
You can’t agapao yourself if agapao is always about someone else. Olaf’s definition also isn’t a good fit for this line in today’s passage— “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” God’s love for us is awesome, but His glory is still the purpose of everything. So, a general definition of agapé that isn’t comparative is best—like, “seeking someone’s well-being.”
All this is to set up the purpose clause in this passage— “that we might live through Him.” All this love is for the purpose that we might live through Christ. But what does it mean to live through Christ?
In a night of anguished prayer, Major W. Ian Thomas, heard the answer from His Lord.
“You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on my behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.”
In his landmark work, The Saving Life of Christ, Ian refers to this incident as his discovering the secret of the adventurous life. “I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life. But I want to emphasize this; I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years. Thus, step by step the most high led his trusting and obedient servant in the paths that he neither foresaw nor chose, but they were pathways of service eminently satisfying and always adventurous.”
That’s what the love is for—that we would live in Him and through Him. How glorious is that?
Are we ready to live that way? To let Him have total control?
Few people are. We’re happy to serve Christ, even to take a lot of direction from Him, but remove all the limits?
I’m not ready for that much adventure.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.