“Because He First Loved Us”, Charles Spurgeon on The Love of Jesus 1 John 4:19 (Abiding in God, Loving One Another, Redeemed)

Because He First Loved Us from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was a man who preached the whole counsel of God’s Word, and was careful to not excessively repeat himself in any one area. Yet, he preached five remarkable sermons on these eight words alone.

(1Jo 4:19)

The reason for our love to Jesus

“We love Him because He first loved us”. 1 John 4:19

A. —We love Him:

In this great statement, John begins by declaring the heart of every true follower of Jesus Christ. Simply and boldly put, we love Him.

i. This is a fact for every true follower of Jesus. “There is no exception to this rule; if a man loves not God, neither is he born of God. Show me a fire without heat, then show me regeneration that does not produce love to God.” (Spurgeon)

ii. It is something that every Christian should be unafraid to proclaim: “I love Him; I love Jesus.” Can you say that? Are you embarrassed to say it? Can you say, “I love Jesus”?

iii. “I cannot imagine a true man saying, ‘I love Christ, but I do not want others to know that I love him, lest they should laugh at me.’ That is a reason to be laughed at, or rather, to be wept over. Afraid of being laughed at? Oh sir, this is indeed a cowardly fear!” (Spurgeon)

iv. “Look through all the pages of history, and put to the noblest men and women, who seem to still live, this question, ‘Who loves Christ?’ and, at once, up from dark dungeons and cruel racks there rises the confessors’ cry, ‘We love him;’ and from the fiery stake, where they clapped their hands as they were being burned to death, the same answer comes, ‘We love him.’ If you could walk through the miles of catacombs at Rome, and if the holy dead, whose dust lies there, could suddenly wake up, they would all shout, ‘We love him.’ The best and the bravest of men, the noblest and purest of women, have all been in this glorious company; so, surely, you are not ashamed to come forward and say, ‘Put my name down among them.’ ” (Spurgeon)

v. “Be out-and-out for him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me…. but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.” ‘ ” (Spurgeon)

B.– He first loved us:

This verse not only declares our love for Jesus, it also tells us when He loved us. Some people imagine that Jesus loved us because He knew we would love Him and come to faith in Him. But He loved us before that, and even before the worlds were created, when our only existence was in the mind and heart of God, Jesus loved us.

i. He loved us when we were still sinners: “Every man that ever was saved had to come to God not as a lover of God, but as a sinner, and then believe in God’s love to him as a sinner.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “Jesus loved you when you lived carelessly, when you neglected his Word, when the knee was unbent in prayer. Ah! He loved some of you when you were in the dancing saloon, when you were in the playhouse, ay, even when you were in the brothel. He loved you when you were at hell’s gate, and drank damnation at every draught. He loved you when you could not have been worse or further from him than you were. Marvellous, O Christ, is thy strange love!” (Spurgeon)

C. –We love Him because He first loved us:

This verse tells us where our love for Jesus comes from. It comes from Him. Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.

i. “1. We love him because we find he has loved us. 2. We love him from a sense of obligation and gratitude. 3. We love him from the influence of his own love; from his love shed abroad in our hearts our love to him proceeds. It is the seed whence our love springs.” (Clarke)

ii. “His is the fountain love, ours but the stream: his love the inducement, the pattern, and the effective cause of ours. He that is first in love, loves freely; the other therefore loves under obligation.” (Poole)

iii. “I have sometimes noticed that, in addressing Sunday-school children, it is not uncommon to tell them that the way to be saved is to love Jesus, which is not true. The way to be saved for man, woman, or child is to trust Jesus for the pardon of sin, and then, trusting Jesus, love comes as a fruit. Love is by no means the root. Faith alone occupies that place.” (Spurgeon)

D.–We love Him because He first loved us:

This verse tells us why we love Jesus, and how we can love Him more.

i. “Love believed is the mother of love returned.” (Spurgeon)

ii. “Yet we must not try to make ourselves love our Lord, but look to Christ’s love first, for his love to us will beget in us love to him. I know that some of you are greatly distressed because you cannot love Christ as much as you would like to do, and you keep on fretting because it is so. Now, just forget your own love to him, and think of his great love to you; and then, immediately, your love will come to something more like that which you would desire it to be.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “Now remember, we never make ourselves love Christ more by flogging ourselves for not loving him more. We come to love those better whom we love by knowing them better… If you want to love Christ more, think more of him, think more of what you have received from him.” (Spurgeon)

E. —He first loved us:

This means that it is true that He loves us now. Do you believe it? “Oh, if you do really believe that he has loved you so, sit down, and turn the subject over in your mind, and say to yourself, ‘Jesus loves me; Jesus chose me; Jesus redeemed me; Jesus called me; Jesus has pardoned me; Jesus has taken me into union with himself.’ ” (Spurgeon)

The commandment to love.

(1Jo 4:20-21)

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we seen from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. If someone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him; that who loves God must love his brother also.

A. If someone says, “I love God”:

It is often easier for someone to proclaim his love for God, because that regards a private relationship with an invisible God. But John rightly insists that our claim of loving God is false if we do not also love our brother, and that this love must be seen.

i. One may be a spiritual dwarf because one lacks love. One may know the Word, may never miss a service, may pray fervently, and may demonstrate gifts of the Spirit. Yet in it all, that one may be like Cain, offering to God the fruit of his hands and not the fruit of the Spirit.

B. —If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar: By this crucial measure, Jesus said the world could measure our status as disciples by the measure of our love for one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

i. There is a difference between the love of man, and divine love. “These verses are the equivalent of saying that a person cannot practice agape-love unless he can first practice philia-love.” (Boice)

C. –And this commandment we have from Him: We have a commandment to love. Though love springs forth from our abiding relationship with God and comes from our being born of Him, there is also an essential aspect of our will involved. We are therefore commanded to love our brother in Christ.

i. Being born of God and abiding with Him give us the ability to love; but it is a choice of our will to draw upon that resource and give it out to others. Therefore we are given a command to love, that he who loves God must love his brother also.

ii. Because of this, the excuse “I just can’t love that person” (or other such excuses) is invalid. If we are born of Him and are abiding in Him then the resources for love are there. It is up to us to respond to His command with our will and whole being.

D. –He who loves God must love his brother also: We can also learn how to love God by loving people. One might say, “I want to love God more; I want to grow in my love for Him. But how can I love a God who is invisible?” God would say to us, “Learn to love Me, Whom you cannot see, by loving My children, whom you can see.”

i. Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. God is more pleased when you get it right with your brother, than if you bring Him a sacrifice of praise or resources.

Source: Blue Letter Bible, David Guzik study on John 1 John 4 Abiding in God and His Love

“The Heart Photograph”, From L.Willows (marvel, awaken, fellowship, see God’s beauty)

Many years ago, I lived in New York City, in Manhattan. I remember the all of the parades and festival days with a deep smile. Today for example is, May 5 Cinco de Mayo which celebrates Mexican heritage and freedom. On this day I remember that I used to get a coffee and a special pastry from a place on the avenue and then look for a good seat on the parade route in the morning alongside many neighbors with the same idea. One year, it was usually a beautiful blue sky spring day. As we waited in the uptown streets, there was a tranquil sense of hope. Families would start to gather. Mothers and nannies arrived with young ones as parade time grew near.

We all knew that Cinco de Mayo in New York City was a party not to be missed! A sense of anticipation grew. The streets filled with the smells of vendors offering Mexican foods. The neighborhood started to transform. The calm uptown streets felt playful. We were all smiles, especially the children. I held on to my seat.

Then, in the distance I heard music and voices. It was like a rumble arriving from somewhere. Straining to see, it was as life-in living color was arriving! There was dancing and singing in the streets as the procession came our way. Brightly colored costumes twirled their way towards us. Children and adults squealed with delight. Sticky fingers grabbed to greet the passing celebrities that paraded by. The music became louder than our praise. Group by group of bands and musicians and performers passed for hours. Sometimes it was just people and families that joined and proudly walked by in costume celebrating heritage. It was singing and dancing all the way. This was a City Party!

The Street spilled with music, people, colors, dance, running, singing, shouting, prancing- at times the watchers moved in out between the parade as if to become part of the festivity. Others will engage even more senses to see and marvel the beauty of the world and life as all passes by. This is the “heart photograph”. It imprints joy in another way.

We just never know how precious a moment is until it has passed by and become a memory that we retrieve years later. We don’t even know when we will unknowingly be a special part of someone else’s special heart photograph- imprinted for years to come. Moments like this are often simple but have some things in common that cause them to be impactful.

Here is a suggestion:

  • They are about something more than ourselves. We are caused lift up and to gaze at life from a viewpoint larger or “other” than our own (by the circumstance) Someday, even today-we long to see from the view of God’s Heart.
  • There is a condition that causes or creates a fellowship with others. (We recognize that we belong and are not alone) We are together, in the Kingdom of God. We are commanded to love one another.
  • We are taken out (even temporarily) of our world state or status. (by the event, the shift, the beauty around us, the change in status, the difference) In God’s Kingdom, worldly state has no bearing upon us. We are seen by His eyes from the view of His Heart.
  • We notice our environment with our senses and marvel at life (we awaken and marvel) This world is created by God’s love. Using our Spiritual senses heighten awareness and increase our ability to marvel, wonder and receive His love.

Have you ever taken a Heart Photograph of something? Where all or any of these four conditions included?

You can take Heart Photos now.

As you encounter the day, allow yourself to go through the four steps: 1. Lift up your gaze to a viewpoint larger or other than your own. 2. Recognize Fellowship and Belonging; move towards conditions of Fellowship. 3. Allow yourself to Shift Status by seeing the Beauty around you, in the world, in your life, in others. 4. Notice your environment with your senses and marvel; awaken, see God’s beauty everywhere.

Imagine, as the world become filled with digital photos- it is possible to develop and even more precious way to create imprints of life’s wonder in ways that can be savored with delight, even tempered by wisdom in years to come. It is in your heart, equipped by the eyes of your soul.

With the our spiritual eyes, we can see God’s beauty everywhere because His Spirit is in every living thing.

© 2021 Linda Willows

“Ten Things You Should Know About Love”, From Paul Miller, author of A Loving Life (Faith, Humility, Compassion)

1. Love begins with looking.

On nearly 40 different occasions in the Gospels, Jesus either looks at people, tells others to look, or teaches about looking. When Jesus encounters the widow of Nain (Luke 7), he looks at her first—then he feels compassion and acts on her behalf. We see the same pattern in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). This is why we instinctively look away from a homeless woman or a disabled man. We know that if we really see that person, we will be drawn into the mess of loving another human.

The first step of love is looking at someone—focusing on his or her face, what he or she is doing, feeling, thinking. The person becomes important—not just the role they fill or the problem you’d like to solve for them. And ultimately, God uses this discipline of the eyes to produce compassion in the heart.

2. Love has no exit strategy.

The Bible uses the Hebrew word hesed nearly 250 times to describe a steadfast love that combines commitment with sacrifice, most often God’s love for his people. Hesed is one-way love. Love without an exit strategy. When you love with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what their response is. So if the object of your love snaps at you, you still love. If you’ve had an argument with your spouse in which you were slighted or not heard, you refuse to retaliate through silence or withholding your affection. Your response to the other person is entirely independent of how they have treated you. 

Hesed is stubborn. Hesed says, No, you act on your commitments. The feelings will follow. Love like this is unbalanced, uneven. There is nothing fair about this kind of love.

3. Humility is the key to love.

Our modern culture strongly emphasizes that openness, or vulnerability, is the key to love—exposing yourself, your weakness, your sins. I don’t want to denigrate that. We see throughout the Gospels how Jesus prizes the openness of his disciples. But as much as he prizes it, what he points to (and what Paul points to, especially in Philippians 2), is that the key to love is humility. Emphasizing openness without humility leads to the biting and devouring that Paul talks about in Galatians 5, in which both sides are more concerned with the other person understanding them. Both sides are good at honesty—but there is no compassion in it. The key to love is humbling yourself, or putting yourself under another person’s power.

Loving people is hard sometimes. Here is the help we need to embrace relationship, endure rejection, cultivate community, and reach out to the most unlovable as we discover the power to live a loving life.

4. Suffering is the crucible for love.

Suffering is the crucible, the testing ground for love. We don’t learn how to love anywhere else. Don’t misunderstand, suffering doesn’t create love, but it is a hot house where love can emerge. Why is that? The great barrier to love is ego, the life of the self. In long-term suffering, if you don’t give in to self-pity, slowly, almost imperceptibly, self dies. This death of self offers ideal growing conditions for love. You can’t flee the crucible. Love will not grow if you check out and give into the seductive call of bitterness and cynicism–or seek comfort elsewhere. We have to hang in there with the story that God has permitted in our lives.

As we endure, as we keep showing up for life when it makes no sense, we learn to love, and God shows up. We can endure in love, if our God acts in time and space.

5. Love is unsure.

Love doesn’t always know what to do; it is unsure. Legalism (or paternalism) is clear and confident; that’s where we often start in relationships. “I know who you are and what you need.” Love is not sure what it sees, so it incarnates, or steps into someone else’s shoes. Love slows down to ask questions and, in so doing, it begins to see clearly.

Legalism has no questions, since everything is figured out ahead of time. So it is really blind.

6. Love is not efficient.

As I study Jesus’s life, I’m learning that love is not efficient. When my heart is motivated by the love of God, I’m not so driven to move on to the next project. Being a good steward of my time requires that I tune in to God’s heart and see the opportunities to love others that are all around me. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15–16).

Only when we examine our walks in the light of biblical wisdom and in the Spirit’s presence are we able to make the most of our time. Otherwise, we will absorb the wisdom of the culture and be caught up in the kingdom of busyness.

You don’t find community; you create it through love.

Jesus wants us to be primarily lovers, not stewards, with our time and even our money. Focusing primarily on stewardship is like focusing on the fine print. It gets people thinking about preserving time and money. In parable after parable Jesus tells stories about people who give it all, who love with abandon. Stewardship is the fine print. Love is the large print. He wants us to love with abandon. Jesus presumes stewardship and teaches love.

7. Love creates community.

Our modern quest for community has a thousand faces to it: Where can I go to find a place where I am loved? How can the church be a real community and not just a social club? How do I achieve intimacy in marriage? (Intimacy is just a state of heightened community on a small scale.) Instinctively, we know what makes for a good community: a safe place where I am included, where I am known and loved, and I in turn know and love others. Creating an inclusive community is the holy grail of modern culture. But actually doing it is extremely difficult.

The biggest problem people have in searching for the perfect community is just that. You don’t find community; you create it through love.

8. Love thinks.

A neglected aspect of love on display in the book of Ruth is wisdom. Our culture puts “falling in love” front and central, but forgets about “thinking in love.” Not Naomi. She thinks about how to make love happen. That’s wisdom. Without wisdom, Naomi and Ruth’s situation would have remained frozen.

Because we moderns have surrendered love to the world of feelings, we often separate thinking and planning from love. Our culture is quick to call a plan (like Naomi’s plan to bring Boaz and Ruth together) “manipulation,” but that is only because Romanticism hijacked the word love. When buying a home or starting a business, we present a plan to the bank or investors. They want to make sure that we’ve thought about everything. It is not manipulation to want to buy a house or start a business. So why would marriage be any different? Thinking, planning, and problem-solving are completely intertwined with romance, love, and audacity. Life is like this.

When we separate love from thinking, love gets weird and floaty, and finally tragic as lives are destroyed all under the banner of “falling in love.” It’s good to think in love even as you are falling in love.

9. Faith is the power for love.

You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life-energy needs to come from God, not the person you are loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. Self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power of wisdom or ability in yourself to love. That is the beginning of faith: knowing you can’t love. Faith is the power for love. Paul the Apostle tells us that the I-beam, or hidden structure, of the Christian life is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). In overwhelming situations where you are all out of human love, you discover that you are praying all the time because you can’t get from one moment to the next without God’s help.

You realize you can’t do life on your own, and you need God and his love to be the center. You lean into God because you can’t bear the weight of love. So faith is not a mountain to climb, but a valley to fall into.

10. Death is at the center of love.

Your journey of love will draw you into Jesus’s journey—which goes down into death before it rises in resurrection. I call this the J-Curve, and it is the shape of the normal Christian life. At the center of our everyday lives, we should expect to find a dying love. The command to love is complete. Jesus wants all of us. One word that Christ uses and is used throughout the New Testament that gets to the heart of death is obedience. By that, I mean a surrender of your will. What happens when we surrender our will in that situation, whatever it is where we need to die, that’s where we discover the power of Jesus to love.

When you realize that death is at the center of love, it is quietly liberating. Instead of fighting the death that comes with love, you embrace what your Father has given you. A tiny resurrection begins in your heart.

Paul E. Miller is the author of A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships.

Paul E. Miller

Paul E. Miller (MDiv, Biblical Seminary) is the executive director of seeJesus as well as the best-selling author of A Praying Life and several other books. With the help of his ministry staff, Miller creates and conducts interactive discipleship seminars throughout the world. He and his wife, Jill, live in the Philadelphia area and have six children as well as a growing number of grandchildren.