He Loved First (1 John 4:19) - Radical

He Loved First (1 John 4:19)

“We love because he first loved us.”
– 1 John 4:19

Kind of like 1 John 1:9, this is a really well-known verse from 1 John because of its simple, short, significant, beautiful reality. The reality that we love, period. We love God, we love others, because he first loved us. How does that work? When you think about it, the Bible clearly teaches, 1 John talks about how God is love. Love originates in God. Love comes from God. Without God, there is no love. God is the author of love, he is the fountain of love. So any love in us, where does it come from? It comes from God, and his love toward us.

1 John 4:19 Reminds Us of the Greatest Commandment

So what is the first and greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Isn’t that an interesting command? Love God. We’re commanded to love. How does this work? Well when we realize how much God loves us, when we realize how lovely God is, then it just makes sense to love him. With all our heart and all of our soul and all of our mind, all of our strength to be in relationship with him, that is marked by love. I would just pause there and ask the question, is that a description of your relationship with God? Love, is that central in your relationship with God? Do you love him, do you love thinking about him, love listening to him, and his word? Do you love obeying him?

1 John 4:19 Gives Us this Kind of Love

Oh God, give us this kind of love for you and love for others which is what Verse 20 then goes on to talk about which is exactly what Jesus said the second greatest commandment is, to love your neighbor as yourself, 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” So love from God overflows into love for God and love for others.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray to the Lord

And so we pray. God, we want our lives to be marked by love like this, by meditation on your love for us. By understanding of your love for us, even as Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians that we might know the height, width, breadth, and length of your love for us. God, I pray that over every single person who’s listening right now, that they would know in a fresh way right now the depth of your love for them.

It’s whatever they’re walking through right now, and it’s wherever they are in their day, right now, that they would know they are loved by you. And this would flow into love for you. God, help us. We want to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Everything we have. We want that to be the primary command we obey in our lives. We want that to be the primary marker of our lives, that we love you wholeheartedly and that we love others selflessly. That we love and lay down our lives in a 1 John 3 kind of way. For others, just as you, Lord Jesus, have laid down your life for us.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray for the Afghans

Oh God, we pray this over people in Afghanistan, for your church there and those who don’t know you Jesus, God we pray that amidst war and violence, fear and terror, that people would look to you and experience your love for them. God, we pray that you would give them help and safety and hope and God, we just pray for your love to be made known among the people of Afghanistan. Ultimately for your love in Jesus to be made known among the people in Afghanistan.

Please oh God, bring it about. Please help our brothers and sisters there to remember your love for them, to know in deeper and deeper ways your love for them and to spread your love for others. God, help them to love the people around them, even those who seek to harm them, even their enemies. That you would help our brothers and sisters to love them as the overflow of your love for them. God, we are so thankful for 1 John 4:19. We love this verse, and we pray together. Help us to love you, and to love others today out of the overflow of your love for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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