“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
1 John 4:8 (KJV)
How are you? Today’s post is about love and knowing God. Before we get into 1 John 4:8, let’s put it in a little perspective. Earlier in the chapter John is warning believers that they may get many people telling them this or that about what to believe or do. However, as Christians, we only want to do and believe as God wills us. In a world full of sin and as many opinions as there are people, it can be difficult in choosing what to believe and how to go.
The next question is how can we even know what God’s will is for us if we do not know Him. Even some acquaintances might not know how to take something a family member might say or do. So, we that know the person might say, “Oh he loves me. It is just his way.” When we know the person, we understand their meaning. It is the same with God. We need to know God, which also means knowing His Word, in order to know His will for us.
Notice, that I haven’t even used the word “love” yet. Well, that is because I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet. I think it is easier to understand if we take it in bite size pieces, because this verse goes way beyond common words like “love” and “know”.
Now, let’s look at the words in 1 John 4:8 (KJV), “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” What does this mean to you? If we take it literally, I think it says that regardless of whether we call ourselves a Christian or not, if we don’t love and act in a loving way towards God, ourselves, or others, then we don’t really know God. To me, it is also saying that we aren’t close to God and aren’t right with God if we don’t have love in our hearts.
I think 1 John 4:8 warns us not only about other people who may not be of God, but also calls for us to reflect upon whether we are acting as God wills us. So, when we get advice, we can check it. If there is no love in it, then it definitely is not from God. If we don’t act in a loving way, then we are not acting in God’s behalf towards the world.
I think that 1 John 4:8 can be better understood if we take it in the light of Genesis 1:27 (KJV), which says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” To me, if we remember that we are created in God’s image, then we will be more apt to be able to discern whether we are acting in accordance with God, because God is love, among other things.
Figuratively, we can put a mirror up to a person (including ourselves), as well as what he or she may say or do. If the reflection is a bright sign that says, “love of God”, then he or she (or the message) is of God. If the reflection is just of a plain person or anything less than the “love of God”, then we need to be cautious and discern carefully.
Something else I would like to mention about 1 John 4:8 and maybe the most difficult thing; and that is we need to be careful about the definition of “love”. Love isn’t just saying, “I love you.” Love isn’t always a “fuzzy, feel good” feeling. Love isn’t always something that we want to hear. Love doesn’t always agree with us. Love can be stern and admonishing as well. Love is truthful, righteous, disciplining, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate. Love, especially God’s love and God Himself, entails so much more than a love that we humans can even imagine or comprehend.
I think that many in the world are confused about love. Our lack of understanding about love is where many fights begin. Some think or say, “If you love me, you will do this.” Then, if the person doesn’t do it, then people think that they are not loved. But, we can’t just dictate whether someone loves us based upon whether or not they do what we want. The yardstick is much different than that. Figuratively, the yardstick is what we see in the mirror. We are called to show the love of God to others. If someone holds a mirror up to us, then figuratively they should see that bright sign that says “love of God”.
However, 1 John 4:8 (KJV) says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” It is a negative statement. So, we aren’t talking about those who love, but those who don’t love. It is still the same yardstick though. Whether we are reflecting on ourselves or trying to discern whether what someone is telling us is from God or not, we still need to figuratively look in the mirror and look for the “love of God”. If we don’t see it, then the person (including oneself) doesn’t know God. He or she isn’t reflecting God’s love or image. So, we need to beware.
Thank you for being our Heavenly Father. Thank you for giving us a yardstick in which to discern whether someone knows you. Thank you for your love. Help us to reflect your love to others in all that we do. Help us to discern the reflection of your love or lack thereof in others. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflection questions for 1 John 4:8 (KJV):
*What does 1 John 4:8 mean to me?
*What does love mean to me?
*Do I reflect on whether I love others and reflect God’s love?
*Do I hold others and the messages or actions of others up to the mirror to
discern whether or not they are of God?
*What can I do in order to heed the words in 1 John 4:8 better?
*What is God telling me in the words in 1 John 4:8?
Now, it is your turn.
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P.P.S. - If you like this post on "love" and "reflecting God's love" and truth, you may also want to read this post.
This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.