“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
The most common mistake we make as believers is assuming that loving someone means liking them. In the sense that John is teaching, love is an action, not an emotion. It’s how you can love a perfect stranger + those who hurt you. If we loved based off of our feelings for one another, we’d be stuck on one wild roller coaster ride.
No, perfect love is sacrificial and free of fear. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love (1 John 4:18). When we love as Christ loved, there is no hesitation or second guessing ourselves. We don’t think twice about stopping to pray with the homeless man on the side of the road, and we don’t talk ourselves out of asking the girl sitting alone to come to church with us. We aren’t afraid to give a few extra bucks to a passer-by, and we don’t question if someone is worthy of our attention. Perfect love helps those in need + freely gives time and resources without expecting anything in return.
Jesus is the ultimate example of that love. In the old testament times, people would sacrifice animals as an act of asking for forgiveness. God loved us so much that He sent his son to shed his own blood so that we could be forever forgiven. Did He enjoy watching Jesus suffer from persecution, accusations, and death? Absolutely not, but He loved us enough to put His own pain aside for us to live eternally with Him.
To show love in its perfected form is to give something to someone for their eternal benefit. Eternal giving is always sacrificial because it requires stripping ourselves from any benefit because we know that the glory goes to God. You may ask yourself what it is about stepping out of your comfort zone without any visual reward to follow that sounds appealing? Friends, one day we will know.
What does your act of perfect love look like?