1 John 4:1-21

Love one another - because God loved us first



Opening
“Lord, Heavenly Father, we are here gathered in Thy name. May then the thoughts of our minds and the words from mouths be well accepted to Thee.
Beloved, Grace to you from God, our Father
And from the Son
And from the Holy Spirit,
Both now and forever more. Amen

Our Hymn of Praise is...

Our Scripture reading is from 1 John chapter 4:

  1. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
  2. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
  3. but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
  4. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
  5. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
  6. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
  7. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
  8. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  9. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
  10. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
  11. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  12. No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
  13. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
  14. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
  15. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
  16. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
  17. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
  18. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
  19. We love because he first loved us.
  20. If anyone says, ''I love God,'' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
  21. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.


Here ends our Scripture reading. Blessed are those that hear the Word of God and believe in it, for everyone that hears the word of God and believe in it, will inherit the everlasting life. Amen 

Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 John chapter 4 verse 9 we read: “We love because he first loved us.”

Marriage is most certainly the greatest event in the life of any two people. It is wonderful to see and hear how two people, filled with love for one another, vow to God that they will love one another for ever and ever.

It is here that their love is solemnized. It is here that they also vow to stay together – till only death will separate them. It is here that couples decide that their marriage will be different.

It is such a pity though, that all these beautiful dreams are shattered, so often and o so quickly. The worst part of this is when these dreams end up in divorce courts.

Perhaps the most basic reason for this tendency is to be found in the different understanding of the word “love”.

Too many people think “love” is to live in a “fairyland”, filled with love and peace and joy.

Love is not this glorious feeling that you feel for one another today.

Love, is a duty that you take upon yourself;
Love is a command to be adhered to;
Love asks for your whole life to be laid on the altar.

This, we learn from the Bible.

In this passage that we read, we find something very interesting. Paul says that we cannot love, was it not for the love of God. Our love for one another is and will and must be a reflection of the pure love that we see in Jesus Christ. Any other feeling that we may have, any other thought that we may have about love, is not love and is not true. We can only love, because God loved us first.

And how does this love look like?
A Synonym (in other words another word with the same meaning) for the word “love” is the word “self-sacrifice”. That is what Jesus came to do. That is how we know what love is and how much God love us.
Jesus Christ came to sacrifice himself, totally and in full. Let us think back of the life of Jesus.

Jesus was with God and he was God (we read this in John 1: 1). He was Almighty and powerful. He was filled with glory and lived in the heavenly realms. He sacrificed everything that He was and had when He became man. He was prepared to be humiliated, to take the form of a man.

In His birth he had to be humiliated, to become weak and helpless and without glory – like an infant.
This humiliation would not end here. He kept on giving Himself time and time again throughout His whole life – and that for the life of wretched sinners like you and me.

When the Pharisees and the crowd tried to mock Him, He taught them to love. He was the one who taught His disciples to love your enemy.
He was the one who taught the world to turn the other cheek.
He was the one who taught us to walk the extra mile.
He taught us to take the burden of the shoulders of those who suffer and carry it for them.

When the crowds hit Him, He did not take revenge.
They spat Him in the face and He didn’t rebuke them.
They were prepared to crucify Him and He was prepared to die for their sins and give them the everlasting life.

The ultimate of this special love is to be found on the Cross of Calvary, where He cried out: “Lord forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”. How different is this from what we would have done!

The wonderful thing is that by this love, there is now new life for all.

This is also possible in every marriage.
If we now start to love one another, in the same way as Jesus loves us, there can only be true peace and love and happiness. But then we will have to start realizing that love is not something to receive while we are relaxing and doing nothing. Love must be practiced. It is a happy obligation that we must fulfill.

We can put it even sharper: Love is never ever something to be received; it is something that we must do. To wait for love to come our way, is a sinful thought. Love is only given. This love is given in obedience to God.

This means that we must be prepared to sacrifice ourselves to the other, regardless and without any reward being expected. Love means to keep on giving yourself despite any action – how pleasant or unpleasant it might be – that comes your way.
Love cannot wait for a proper response from the other, but is so anxious to give that it flows from the giver as a stream of quenching water.

The problem in life today is that our love has become focused upon ourselves and what is good and right for me. The life and the needs of the other around me have been diminished. That may be seen as one of the most basic reasons for all unhappy marriage.

Some other marriages are a 50% marriage. This is where a couple become like business partners. It becomes a business transaction. “If you do this, then I want to do the other … “ Such a marriage won’t last.

There is only one way, and that is the way of Jesus Christ. Let us say time and time again: “We love ‘cause God loved us first”

May God bless you and your marriage. May He keep you in his hands and protect you from all evil.

Prayer

Form for the solemnization of marriage

Prayer

Closing Hymn

Benediction
The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ
The love of God
And the abidance of the Holy Spirit
Be with you both now and for ever more
Amen