Love Made Complete
1 John 4:16-21
1 John 4:16 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. (NIV)
I took the title of this message from verse 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.” (NIV)
The New American Standard Bible says “love is perfected with us”. “Made complete” or “perfected”. The same Greek word or at least a form of that word is used here and in verse 18. Actually, twice in that verse: “perfect love” and “not made perfect in love”. John says, “perfect love drives out fear” and “the one who fears is not made perfect in love”.
Perfect or complete? Perfect love or complete love? The Greek word is translated in three basic ways. Sometimes it is translated as complete, sometimes as perfect, and at other times as mature. This helps me to understand what John was getting at when he used this Greek word in relation to love.
Look at verse 17 again with the idea of mature love. “In this way, love is made mature (or brought to maturity) in us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.”
Made mature or brought to maturity in love: What is God trying to do in my life? He wants me to grow up and love as He loves. His love is perfect, complete, mature. The love of Christ was also like the love of the Father and as we live in love, as we live in God and God lives in us, He is working at helping us to become mature, complete, perfect in our love for Him and in our love for one another.
This love is the mark of those who are following Christ. In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that others will know we are His disciples when we love one another. Discipleship is about learning and growing in our love for God and in our love for other people.
Backing up to verse 16, John tells us: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” What does it mean to “rely on the love of God”? For me it means we believe that God loves us. When we really believe God loves us we have little problem following and obeying Him. When we fully believe that God loves us… when we are convinced that God loves us we will have confidence on the day of judgement. We will be able to stand before in humble submission, knowing we are loved.
When we are relying on the love of God we are trusting that what He wants for us is best for us. His commandments are not burdensome because we are trusting that He knows what is best for us and we are not afraid to walk in fellowship with Him.
John says that when we love we are living in God and God is living in us. God is working at developing our ability to love Him and love other people. Growing disciples are developing in their ability to love God and love other people.
Do you really believe God loves you?
God wants you to know you are loved by God. Before we accept and rely on His love for us we live in fear of punishment. Perfect love, complete love, mature love, fully developed love casts out fear.
Wednesday night we talked about the spirits John says we are to test because not every spirit comes from God. This was from the previous passage in John that we spoke about last week.
I think of these spirits as the influences in our life that guide us in the decisions we make. Paul, in his letters, talks about three sources of influence in our lives that do not come from God. He speaks of the world, the flesh and the devil.
As you are making decisions each day, big decisions or little decisions, who or what is guiding you in those decisions. What influences you to live as you live, to do the things you do, to make the decisions you make? Is it God and His Holy Spirit, His Word, or some other influence?
John told us that one of the main tests we are to use to test those influences, those spirits, is to ask what they do, or what their attitude is toward Jesus, the Christ.
It is important that we have the proper understanding of who Jesus is. He came from God. He is God’s Son. He came into the world to save the world. Any of the influences in our life that do not encourage us to believe these things to be true, or do not help us to grow in our faith in these truths should be avoided.
Another test is what these influences are leading us toward in our relationship with God and other people. Are they leading us to rely on the love of God and to love people, or are they leading us to think and act like people who do not know God?
Our love grows and matures as we spend time in the Word, as we listen to the leading of God’s Spirit in our hearts, and as we learn and grow together as disciples of Jesus Christ. This is why we meet together.
God’s perfect, complete, mature love for us is our hope for salvation, for life lived in fellowship with Him. We rely on the love God has for us. We trust God more and more to love us as we spend time with Him. He does not love us more, but our faith in His love grows and matures. His love is always the same. His love is perfect, complete. His love for us is unconditional.
As our faith in Him and His love for us grows, we also grow in our love for people. People are important to God and if we are His followers they will be important to us as well.
Selfishness diminishes as we live in connection with God. We learn that we are not the center of the universe. God is. Life is not about me. Life is about the truth that God loves people and wants me to participate in His plans for the world.
When Jesus called John to follow Him, this was John’s conversion. He was born again. He was following the Creator.
When we hear Jesus calling us to follow Him, we have the opportunity to be reconnected to our Creator. He is our rightful Lord. He is our Savior.
For God so loved the world… God so love me… God so loved you that He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world to save us. He loves us with His perfect, complete, mature love and we are called to follow Him. We are called to rely on His love for us. We are called to love Him, to grow in our love for Him and for one another.
As we follow Him our love grows and is brought to maturity. Our love is made complete in Him. He calls us to follow. He gives us this choice.
What will our answer be? Will we follow Him? Will we rely on His Love to save us and to lead us?
Number 1: God loves me. Number 2: He is my Lord.
God’s Love and His Lordship give us the ability to be what we were created to be. We were created to be people who bring glory and honor to God because we choose to love Him and to follow Him.Where is your life headed? What is your life all about today? Have you heard God calling? Have you surrendered your life to Him?
When our love is mature, this love casts out our fear of punishment. We have come to trust in God’s love for us and we no longer need to fear the punishment that awaits those who refuse to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The enemy seeks to bring us down and confuse us and make us give up our faith in God’s Love.
What must we do to have eternal life? Simple. Trust God to love you and to lead you. Acknowledge Jesus as the rightful Lord of your life. Believe He came into the world to save you.
There is no fear when faith in God is present. We can trust God to see us through to the end.