1 John 4:16 (a) We have known and believed the love that God has for us.
This is fundamental. This was one of John, the apostle’s, first premises to establish in the life of a firm believer. Now let’s take a closer look at that word ‘love’. Instead substitute any of the following: affection, assurance that God enjoys us, burning desire that God has for us, assurance of His delight and enjoyment even in our weakness.
How about the word ‘know’? Substitute experienced. This begins with ideas or intellectual knowledge that is then combined in prayer and ‘love dialogue’ between you and God. Then God opens up his knowledge and words to you to bring understanding. Ephesians 3:18 states that we will never exhaust the experience of knowing God and His love for us. In eternity, a million years from now, we will still not have reached the limit of His love and our understanding. Amazing. God is an ocean of divine love and burning desire-incomprehensible in it’s fullness.
1Jn 4:16 (b) God is love and he who abides in love, abides in Him.
Instead of abides, let’s use the word lives. It means living in the experience of feeding yourself on the reality of love. This is when your spirit drinks of the doctrine of the love of God for you in your weakness.
When the Bible speaks of love, it always speaks of the three-fold love, and there is always a progression in this love beginning with the revelation that God loves us. Second, the awakening in our heart to love him back. Third, love for people. So, that progression begins with feeding on the fact that God loves us. Then we are awakened in our love for him, and it overflows in our love for people.
Now loving people is always out of the overflow of experiencing God’s love for you. It begins with loving yourself because you love who you are in Christ. Then you love the body of Christ, and then it ALWAYS overflows into loving the harvest. It begins with loving YOU through God’s grace. When you begin loving being you more than anyone else on the earth, with all of your weaknesses and flaws, the way God made you, you know THEN that grace is touching your soul. When you begin to feel a little bit of the passion that He feels when He looks at you and the unique way that He loves you, then you are truly experiencing the grace of God. When you enter into what God feels about you, you have confidence in love.
You know… the song goes ‘It’s all about you, Jesus’, but in reality it is NOT all about God. It is greatly about YOU too. Jesus did not come to earth and die on the cross because you do not matter. God enjoys you so much and all of your eccentricities. He loves the unique way that you love him and your heart relates to him. He loves the unique way that you draw close to him and the way that your spirit, heart, obedience, and relationship matures day by day. It IS about YOU (not only about You but a big part of it IS about you)
You can really tell when a Christian is able to love themselves by viewing his or herself through God’s loving eyes. There is an amazing love and compassion for others that pours out of them just like that promised river of living water. In their eyes, their words, their friendship, you feel love and acceptance. You want to be around them because being around them makes you feel loved. This is not a unique gifting of some Christians. This is the way EVERY Christian is meant to be.
When you abide in God’s love, you drink at the well of the doctrine of love. When you do this, it will completely transform your spirit and change the way that you carry your heart before God.