Before you can love others, you must receive God’s love for yourself, because you cannot give away something you don’t have.
God deeply and intimately loves you! His love for you is unconditional—no strings attached, and there is nothing that you can do to get God not to love you. Indeed, Romans 8:38-39 says that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love.
Knowing that God loves you is central to your understanding of the Gospel, for the entire Gospel is based on God’s love (See John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10). The good news is that God hasn’t withheld His love from us; instead, God has poured out his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
But what do we do with that love? We know God loves us, but so what? What should we do with God’s love? Give it away! Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). In other words, our response to the news of God’s love for us needs to be to love others. Indeed, Jesus repeatedly commanded us to love others (See Matthew 5:43-47, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:27-35, John 13:34-35, John 15:12,17).
However, it is impossible to love others unless you know, believe and receive God’s love.1 John 4:19 says, We love because he first loved us. In other words, we are able to love other people, because God first showed His love to us. If God hadn’t shown His love to us, we would have no standard and no example on which to base our love for others.
Similarly, 1 John 4:7 says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Here again, our ability to love one another is only because love comes from God.
Think of your ability to love others like a glass of water. At first, the glass is empty. If you don’t have any water in your glass, then you obviously can’t give water to anyone else. But when you hold your glass under a faucet and let the water pour out into your glass, it will fill up. Then, once it is full, your glass will overflow, and you can let the water pour out to everyone around you.
If you don’t have love in you, then you can’t give love to anyone else. Therefore, you must first receive God’s love, before you can love one another.
Private obedience leads to public blessings.
The Bible promises that if we obey God, then He will bless us. In Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Moses told the Israelites, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” The next fifteen verses list all sorts of blessings that God will give His people.
It sounds really good to be radically blessed, but notice that there is a condition: you must “fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands.”
Obedience can be difficult, but if you consistently obey God in secret, then “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
You may freely choose between obedience and disobedience, but know that “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).
Obey the Lord in all things—private and public. Then you will see