Together in Christ: 'Love Shows Itself in Action' — 1 John 4:9-10

Thursday, June 13, 2024

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
— 1 John 4:9-10 NLT

Key Thought

In 1899, Rep. Willard D. Vandiver reportedly said, "...frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri. You have to show me." This statement is one of the most popular explanations for how Missouri became known as the "show me state." [1] God shares a similar sentiment when it comes to love. He is not satisfied with silly love songs or talking about love. In our Creator's dictionary, love must be more than an emotion or a sentiment. God-styled love must show itself in consistent, loving actions. [2]

While people want to talk about the meaning of the Greek word ἀγάπη (agape), the truth is that — before Jesus — this word didn't mean much more than our word for love. I believe the Holy Spirit had the New Testament writers — especially John and Paul — used it to describe God's love for us in Jesus. The Spirit re-defined ἀγάπη by how God sacrificially loved us in Jesus. Jesus becomes our definition of ἀγάπη! If you want to know love, look at what Jesus did for you and me while we were still "powerless...ungodly...sinners...God's enemies." [3] This kind of God-shaped love proves itself by sacrificially loving regardless of the apparent receptivity of the one loved!

So, Rep. Willard D. Vandiver and your "show me state" friends, look at God's practical, passionate, and sacrificial loving actions that demonstrated His great love for us — what John calls "real love" in our verses today. God showed us how much he loves us by sending Jesus to us and giving Jesus for us. [4] God-shaped love is defined by loving actions and not just by a love song, greeting card, or sappy sentiment. And, dear friend in Jesus, you know as well as I do that we need that kind of love because life is hard and people are fickle. Thankfully, God has repeatedly demonstrated His love for us. He now asks us to share that committed, consistent, loving action with each other! [5] As John wrote a little earlier in his letter:

Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  [6]
[1] The "show me state"!
[2] 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
[3] Romans 5:6-11 NIV.
[4] John 3:16; 1 John 3:16.
[5] John 13:34-35.
[6] 1 John 3:18.

Today's Prayer

O, dear Father, help me be known as a person who loves deeply and demonstrates that love by how I treat people. I pray that I am always loyal to my commitments and willing to sacrifice to bless others. In Jesus' name and for Jesus' glory, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • John 13:1-17
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 John 3:16-18

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Illustration

Illustration of 1 John 4:9-10 NLT — God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.