Click here for the reading: 1 John 4:7-16.
Love is the great proof of being in God, because God Himself is love. John exhorts us to love one another just as God first loved us. What does John mean by love? What is the difference between this love and the love unbelievers show to others? How ought we to deal with a loveless attitude among Christians, especially when the world seems to show love better? In what ways does the world distort the idea of love, and how does this affect us in the Church? Compare Leviticus 19:9-18 and how it describes love.
God shows His love through His actions, above all in His Son Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins, so that we might live with Him. If God so loved us, how much should we love one another! Why does Jesus serve as the supreme example of love for us? In what ways do we show that same love for one another? In what ways do we show love for those who do not know God? How does Paul speak about this in Romans 5:1-11?
No one has seen the Father, nor have we in the last days seen Jesus face to face. Yet that does not mean that He has left us alone. Christian love is the great proof of God living within us, and the love He showed in His Son expresses itself in this way. Why is there such a close connection between Christian love and action? In what ways do our actions help or hinder the Gospel? How should Christians respond to charges of hypocrisy? Consider how Jesus speaks to this in John 13:31-35.
The Lord gives us another proof of this love in His Holy Spirit. The Spirit who speaks to us, bearing witness to what Jesus has done, also leads us to confess the truth of God. Jesus is the Son of God, as the Spirit tells us, and whoever believes in Him also has God dwelling within. What is the relationship between knowing the truth and love, between right doctrine and love for our neighbor? In what ways do we sometimes drive a wedge between these two, intentionally or unintentionally? Why must the two be kept together? How does the Lord talk about this in a passage like Hosea 6?
John goes on after this reading to discuss what Christian love is not. Fear is not love, because fear has to do with punishment. Hatred is not love, for it is impossible to both love God and to hate a Christian brother. Disobedience is also not love, because if we love God, then we will keep His commandments. Do we see examples of these even in the Church? How should Christians deal with these problems? How does John deal with these in this letter or elsewhere in his writings? How does Moses speak to Israel about this in Deuteronomy 10:12-22?