September 11 2021
Today, Saturday September 11
A Growing Maturing Love for God
1 John 5:4-5 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
In this present section (4:17-5:5), we have found out that if we have a maturing, growing love for God, we will be living without fear and worry, and instead we will have boldness and courage as we fact the present challenges and future judgment. We will also won’t have to be pretenders and can live honestly before God and others. We will joyfully obey the commandments of God and will not find them heavy or burdensome. And finally we will live in victory as we overcome the world, the flesh and the devil by our faith in Jesus Christ!
How can we go about experiencing this kind of love and the blessings that flow from it? To begin with, this kind of love must be cultivated. It is not the result of a hit-or-miss friendship! Remember how we so easily slip back into the world by trying to a “friend with the world” (James 4:4); then becoming “spotted by the world” (James 1:27); next we start “loving the world” (1 John 2:15-17); and then we find ourselves “conformed to the world” (Rom. 12:2).
Our relationship to Jesus Christ, in a similar way, grows by stages.
We must cultivate friendship with Christ. Abraham was "the friend of God" (James 2:23) because he separated himself from the world and did what God told him.
This friendship will begin to influence our lives. As we read the Word and pray, and as we fellowship with God's people, Christian graces will start to show up in us. Our thoughts will be cleaner, our conversation more meaningful, and our desires more wholesome. But we will not be suddenly and totally changed; it will be a gradual process.
Our friendship with Christ and our becoming like Him will lead to a deeper love for Christ. On the human level, friendship often leads to love. On the divine level, friendship with Christ ought to lead to love. "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). The Word of God reveals His love to us, and the indwelling Spirit of God makes this love more and more real to us. Furthermore, this love is worked out in our lives in daily obedience. Christian love is not a passing emotion; it is a permanent devotion, a deep desire to please Christ and to do His will.
The more we know Him the better we love Him, and the better we love Him the more we become like Him—"conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom. 8:29). Of course we will not be completely conformed to Christ until we see Him (1 John 3:1-3); but we are to begin the process now.
What an exciting way to live! As God's love is perfected in us, we have confidence toward Him and do not live in fear. Because fear is cast out, we can be honest and open; there is no need to pretend. And because fear is gone, our obedience to His commands is born out of love, not terror. We discover that His commandments are not burdensome. Finally, living in this atmosphere of love, honesty, and joyful obedience, we are able to face the world with victorious faith and to overcome instead of being overcome.
The place to begin is not in some daring, dramatic experience. The place to begin is in the quiet, personal place of prayer. When we begin our day reading the Word, meditating on it, and worshiping Christ in prayer and praise, we will experience this perfecting love. When it begins, we will know it—and others will know it. Our life will be marked by confidence, honesty, joyful obedience, and victory.