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.-1 John 4:18
Just as 1 Corinthians 13 is Paul’s great discourse on love, 1 John 4:7-21 is John’s great discourse on love. And what makes these two passages even more interesting is the personalities of both Paul and John. Both men were known for having tempers and being hot headed. Paul before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus was actively trying to stamp out the early church, for the very simple reason that he did not agree with what they were saying. John in the gospels is known as the disciple, who along with his brother wanted to call down fire from heaven on a village because they did not accept Jesus and his message. What then changed these two men, who would then go on to play great roles in the founding of the church? The thing that changed them was being filled with God’s love. And again this love is not the emotional love of having a fond affection for someone, this love involves not just emotions but the rational, logical and thinking part of your brain because this love involves your ability to make a rational and logical choice based on the facts and the evidence presented to you.
John starts off his discussion of love with these words:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete is us.-1 John 4:7-12 NIV
The first thing that we see here is that love comes from and because love comes from we are to love each other. The second thing we see here is that God loved us enough in spite of our sins to send his one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And last thing we see here is that none of us have ever actually seen God, but a picture of God is shown to those around us through our love of them.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.-1 John 4:13-16 NIV
John is telling us here that God is not just looking for you to have a fond affection for him, that will only last for a short while. Instead God is looking for you to make a conscious choice to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is the only way to get to God.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of Judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. 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.-1 John 4:16-18 NIV
John here again tells us that God is love. But more importantly he tells us that there is no fear in love. And there is no fear in love, because fear is tied to punishment and retribution, whereas love is tied to forgiveness and understanding. When we fear that there will be some form of punishment or retribution for the things of our past then we won’t love others and more importantly we won’t love God.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.-1 John 4:19-21 NIV
John concludes his discussion of love with the greatest revelation about love that could ever be made. We love because God first loved us. There is not greater reason for us to show love to the world. God loved us enough to send his Son to die for sins, and because of this the least we can do is show others the same love that God has shown us. That is John concludes with these words, “And he has give us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21 NIV).