In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 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. 1 John 4:9–10—NKJV

How do you measure love? Is it a measured response to the amount of love you have received? Is it a palpable feeling responsive to the romance of the moment, ebbing and flowing like the tide? Is it a general philosophy of “senseless acts of kindness” for the sheer desire to feel good about yourself and with high hopes that God will take notice of you for future goodwill? Is love, to you, the highest form of self-martyrdom?

John has been known as “the apostle of love” for good reason. He wrote 1st John to help us identify whether God loves us and whether we love God. All we know of true love is defined by God’s love as verse 7 states, “love is of God” and verse 8 states, “God is love.” Our interactions with others, our family life, our marriages and our relationship with God will benefit if we conform to His measurement standards of love.

What can we learn about love from our passage? First, true love is a decision of commitment. John 3:16 expresses the poignancy of the commitment, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Humanly speaking, the actions of God are always with forethought and foresight. Ephesians 1 and 2 Timothy 1 speak of His decisions before the world began as if there were a great council held of the eternal, triune Godhead. He chose to love “us and sent His Son.”

Second, true love is not hidden when you know where to look. His love is “manifested toward us.” Some shamelessly and callously accuse God of many horrid injustices in the world, none of which rest on Him. The blame rests squarely on Satan’s twisted, deformed shoulders. Satan’s injustice is most visibly seen in the sinful, fallen state of mankind and the freakish occurrences in nature which has been plunged into its condition because of the original sin of Adam. Sin has many diverse consequences and no son of Adam can escape (death is the most common form of disability and the greatest equalizer). Every human is born a sinner estranged from God’s love and is at war with God. Many people go through life and never realize where to look for God’s love, but His love is not hidden.

Third, true love spares no expense in that He sent His eternal Son to be the “propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation means satisfaction. Christianity is vastly different from all pagan-type theologies in that paganism always requires man to find ways to satisfy the religion’s god(s) and earn eternal benefit. This verse points out that God’s just wrath toward our sin was satisfied by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, our Substitute, the Just for the unjust. This kind of love ranges high above self-interest to act only in the interest of the object true love, “that we might live through Him.” This is divine love.

Christian love for God and one another is of the highest order, to the most exacting of standards, to reflect His love for you. Do you know and honor God’s love because you have trusted in the substitutionary, propitiatory work of Jesus Christ? Do you model the high character of divine love by showing your love as an unhidden decision of commitment to God sparing no expense? How should God’s love transform your relationships? Trust and obey.