7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
(1 John 4:7-13, NASB).
Love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
French is from France. Everyone who speaks French is born of France and knows France. If you are French, then everything you see and everything you understand is in French; you basically think in French. Even if you weren’t born in France, everyone knows that originally French came from there. So everything God does is love. Love doesn’t happen except that it comes from God. When we are born of God, we start to think in terms of love, all the time.
One wonders, does that mean that if cannibalistic tribal people or Mr. and Mrs. Smith type assassins who fall in love are from God? Or, perhaps, just their “love” is from God? I don’t know, maybe. I think that there really is a difference between agape love and phileo or eros love. The word here is agape.
Speculating, agape love, being distinct from these others, seeks not the physical union nor the familial tie that the others seek. It seeks the benefit and welfare of the other in a way that does not necessarily gratify anything in the one who loves. In the same way Jesus “agape’d” us through His death, which wholly benefitted us and did not benefit Him. So agape is gratified through the blessing of the other – it becomes grateful when the other person is enabled or blessed or granted favor in some way.
The relationship between the word “gratified” and the word “grateful” is fascinating, isn’t it? It suggests that the end of desire is met when one is able to release gratitude for it. It also suggests that this is the chief difference between the world’s love and the love from God. The love from God is gratified, not when its own benefit is realized, but when the benefit of the other person is realized. It is other focused, but truly gratified, generating genuine gratitude.
So, as we enter into the life of being beloved, we begin to see the world in terms of love. We begin to define our experiences in terms of the opportunities that circumstances present to be grateful for chances to sacrifice ourselves in different ways so that others may benefit. We have been powerfully loved in this way, and rejoiced over (Luke 15:7), and so we rejoice in seeing others benefit, especially if we were able to give into that blessing.
When we live this way, when we “agape” others this way, we demonstrate that we are born of God, and that we know God. We are born of God in the sense that God is our genesis; we are born again as new creatures in Christ, and this agape love which is gratified when others are blessed at our own expense, is evidence. When we love we demonstrate that we know God, that we not only have learned of God but that we have experienced Him. The Greek word even suggests knowing in the sense of sexual intercourse – that we know God in a very intimate and secret and powerfully romantic or passionate way. Amen!