Have you ever been accused of starting something? Oftentimes, when we accuse someone of starting something, it is usually bad. But, in 1 John 4:8-10, we see how God started His relationship with us:
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
In the ancient Greek language, there were four different aspects of love: (1) eros - a fervent sexual passion for someone; (2) phileō - a mutual interest and natural affection between friends; (3) stergō – a familial affection, especially between parents and children and; (4) agape - a self-denying loving kindness towards the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection. This type of love has its origin from God.
This is the type of love the writer is talking about in this passage. The writer is saying: whoever does not continuously display agape love towards others, especially other believers, has never had an intimate, experiential knowledge of God. Who is this person who does not know God? It is the person who may have eros love, they may have phileō love, or they may have stergō love. They may also have intellectual knowledge of God. They may know all know about His character and attributes, but they do not have agape love towards others.
This is why some people can fool you into thinking they are followers of Jesus when you are confused about their type of love towards you. They may impress you with their knowledge about God, but their behavior does not lineup with knowledge. This happens because what they know is in their heads, has never gotten into their heart. The grounds for saying that the one does not love is that knowing God leads people to love one another, since God is love.
What is meant by the phrase “God is love”? First, let’s learn what is does not mean? God is love does not mean that God is loving (although this is true), or that God's activities is "to love" us (although this is true as well) or that love is God. Love is an essence of God. It is His nature. God communicated His love in deeds. True love is never static or inactive. The proof of God’s love to us is clearly seen in that He sent His only Son into the world. Notice, He sent His One and Only Son to mission to perform. This shows us at least two things about God’s love: (a) It is a love which holds nothing back and (b) It is a totally undeserved love. We were dead, needing life and we were guilty needing Divine assistance. The purpose of God’s love was to make eternal life possible for His people; that we might live through him.
The initiative in the work of our salvation belongs entirely to the God of love. In other words, God did not meet us halfway. We were in total rebellion when Jesus came and bore the punishment for our sins, and met the just demands of the Holy Law. God revealed His love and made it possible for us to be saved. This shows us that God is both the Source and the Example of love. So, this week, ask God to help you take some specific steps to love someone that you have had a difficult time getting along with.