“See what kind of love the father has given to us …” (1 John 3:1). What kind of love this is? The word love is used very loosely today and therefore unclear ideas can develop in our minds as we read God’s word. Love is a simple but profound subject and the Apostle John talks about it frequently in his letters.
He himself is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7,20). But didn’t Jesus love them all? Of course he did! But love comes in degrees of intensity, reflecting the one being loved. A mother still loves a naughty child, but there is a different focus to that love.
At times Jesus found it necessary to reprove the disciples for their lack of faith. He rebuked Peter for tempting him to disobey his Father, and he chided Thomas for his lack of belief. In contrast, what an example John set! He went with Jesus to his trial, although he does not name himself (John 18:15-16) and to stand beside the cross with Mary in her agony: remember how she was told a sword would pierce through her own soul (see Luke 2:35).
All believers must have a relationship with Jesus that grows day by day, there will be times of agony but these help us to grow, as it did for Job. As in all true relationships, it must grow and blossom and bring forth fruit. John wrote, “you know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or knows him” (1 John 3:5,6). That means ‘seen him with the eye of faith’ so those who fail to become more like Jesus have never really known him..
Note Paul’s question, “Examine yourselves to see whether … Jesus Christ is in you” (2 Corinthians 13:5). And then John’s meaningful words, “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth” (verse 18). Our actions prove whether we mean what we say!
In the next chapter John writes, “… if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us … we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected in us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement … there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (4:12,16-18).
Yes, John’s words lead us to see “what kind of love” God and His Son have shown to us. How will we respond to this?