1 John 5:1-5
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. 2 This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. 3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden, 4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
John wrote this letter to clarify what love looks like. False teachers had confused believers in their understanding of God’s definition of love, so John taught them in elementary terms that love = obedience. We’ll also find in these few verses that loving God and loving others are joined together and are inseparable.
Because this letter is addressed to Christians, believing Jesus is the Christ is foundational. We cannot love apart from this truth. After our study of Romans last year we learned that “God’s love is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). Also in Romans we read, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)!
If you back up from our text to 1 John 4:19, we find God initiated this love: “We love because He first loved us.” It is only when we believe this deep and abiding love of God’s is available to us through Jesus Christ that we are able to move forward to love God and love others.
We know we can love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. If you were raised in a legalistic family as I was, you might bristle at this truth. The reason we can obey is because His commands are not burdensome. In fact, Jesus summarized all the commands in the law and by the prophets into two: love God and love others.
When we realize God reached out to us in love and that we have the love of God poured into us, then loving God and loving others is not burdensome at all—because it’s not us but God working through us! Paul attested to this truth in his letter to the Corinthians, “For Christ’s love compels us…”
Finally, when we obey God’s commandments through faith in the work of Jesus Christ and love God and love others, our faith results in victory. Can you imagine what our world would look like if—whether individually or as the body of Christ—we moved out in acts of faith by loving God and others? John says it would result in victory—the Greek equivalent being—nike!
My dad and I had a reserved relationship. When my dad became ill, I sensed a prompting to honor him. So I invited my parents down for Thanksgiving and sat my dad at the head of the table. I served him however I could the days he visited.
For my Christmas letter that year, I wrote a tribute to my dad and recalled all the times he had been there for me. Two weeks later, my dad died. I am so thankful I obeyed God, for when my dad passed away I felt great peace and a respect for him I did not have prior to that time.
No, God’s commands are not burdensome because they’re motivated by love, powered by faith, and result in victory.
- Take a test. Do you believe Jesus is the Savior of the world? Do you obey God’s commandments? Do you love God and others? Which area are you lacking in?
- Meditate on God’s love for you using one or all of these scriptures: Romans 5:5, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:19. Write down your thoughts in a journal.
- Pay attention to who you love today. Is it those who love you back? Or do you love those who others ignore or do not see? Ask God who He wants you to love, and then pray that you might be filled with His love so you can love others.