8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (NASB)
Growing up, when the weekends came my father invariably had some set of tasks or chores for my sister and I to do. During the school year we resented this as taking up valuable free time we could be playing, reading, or doing anything other than the drudgery my father had dreamed up. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have any actual activities scheduled, we might have wanted to do something else, but the never-ending chores always awaited us.
Our backyard had no grass, descending into an easement for the power company. This area had the typical Georgia pine tree growing all over the place until you got to a line of demarcation where my father’s will, and weed killer, ran out. If you’ve ever lived in or near a pine forest you know that among other things, pine trees somehow drop more branches in a year than they can grow. I’m not sure how that happens, but it does. Our least favorite, and most heavily maligned task assigned to us was picking up the sticks dropped by the pines in the backyard.
As a parent now I can look back on these assigned chores and understand why my father gave them to us. He wasn’t given them to us out of a spirit of being mean, cruel, or lazy. He wanted us to learn valuable things like appreciating the free time we did have. He did it because he loved us and wanted us to grow up to be good people.
Some like to use the scripture from 1 John 4:8 to denounce Christians who make value-judgments about actions and things in The World. They point to the first part only and decry us as not loving. They fail to even read or comprehend the entire scripture when they do that.
In order for us to know what it means to be loving we must know and understand God, who is love.
The Greek word for ‘Know’ is Ginosko (the Greek Definition for Ginosko can be found HERE). It is not a difficult word to comprehend but it does have one twist; Understanding. The simple difference between ‘Knowing’ and ‘Understanding’ is this…
Knowing a thing is to discover all aspects, both good and bad, about a thing.
Understanding a thing is categorizing all that knowledge into Good and Bad.
We turn the Knowing and the Understanding into Wisdom when you choose the good over the bad.
God is love, sort of like a name; Love.
Have you met Love? He wants to get to know you. Love desires a relationship with you, yes you. He wants to show you great things. Love doesn’t want bad things to happen to you. He can show you how to have more happiness and less hurt in your life. If you haven’t made his acquaintance yet, let me introduce you. Love truly desires your company because he says, You Are Worthy.
Questions for Reflection
- Is there a difference between how Man defines Love and how God defines Love? Should there be a difference? Why or why not?
- What holds you back from being more loving to those you meet?
- How does God show love to his children? How can we emulate God’s definition of love and loving?