John is known as the author of love. In the Greek, three different words are used to mean love. Agape love is God's divine love. It indicates His unconditional love for us. Agape is also used to describe the ideal love between believers. So how do you show that you love someone? And how do you know that someone loves you?
Love Is Shown in Obedience
"By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3-4). If we keep God's commandments, John said, then "we know that we know Him."
When you love someone, you get to know them so you can demonstrate your love by doing things they love. Let's say you don't drink coffee, but your spouse loves a giant mug of coffee first thing in the morning. You could show your love by making them coffee every morning. To show even more love, you might take the time to grind the beans, boil water, and use the French press.
The thing God loves is when you keep—or obey—His commandments. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). To love the Lord is to obey His commandments. When it comes to the Ten Commandments, the first four show us how to love God, while the remaining six show us how to love others (see Exodus 20:3-17).
Commanded to Love
Quoting the Old Testament, Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37; see also Deuteronomy 6:5). This, He said, "is the first and great commandment" (v. 38). God commands us foremost to love Him.
God also commands us to love others. Jesus continued to prioritize God's commandments by restating the second commandment, "'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (vv. 39-40; see also Leviticus 19:18).
Rewarded with Love
"Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (1 John 2:5). Our heavenly reward for obeying the Lord is that His agape love is perfected in us.
Author and pastor Warren Wiersbe said there are three motives for obedience : we have to obey, we need to obey, or we want to obey. As believers, we want to obey. When we choose to keep His commandments, our love toward God and others can be made perfect.
Fueled by Love
John continued, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:6). Your walk and your talk must match. Your lips and your life must coincide. The Greek word for walk implies habitual, forward motion. Walking in the light isn't wandering or meandering. It is forward motion, purposeful walking fueled by God's perfect love.
The apostle Peter disclosed three specific ways to walk or "follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21). First, Jesus "committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth" (v. 22). Our Savior's steps were sinless and true. Also, "when He was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (v. 23). Jesus' steps were submissive. He did not argue, grumble, or talk back. He suffered righteously. Finally, Peter revealed His sacrificial love: "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed" (v. 24).
The author of love told us that as we choose to obey God, He develops agape love within us, allowing us to walk through life expressing His love to others as He commands us to do. He gives us the very love He requires from us. Can you imagine a love that is sinless, submissive, and sacrificial? That is the love Jesus demonstrated, and that is the love He wants to perfect in you.
Lord, Your love is perfect. Thank You for loving me perfectly. Help me to obey Your Word and show You that I love You. Help me, too, to love others with agape love, the same way You love me. Help me to follow in Jesus' steps and in the pattern He established for loving as I walk in the light. In Jesus' name, amen.