“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 2:28–3:3

One of the greatest proofs of your love is your desire to be with someone. Our Savior’s love for us will once again be proven when He returns for His saints (John 14:1ff), and the greatest proof of your love for Him is anticipating His return. Every good marriage knows the truth of this principle. Marriages that are not so strong know the duty in keeping one’s word to be with one another. Either way, the principle remains unchallenged.

This kind of keen interest in being together again and fond hope of being reunited is something that remains on the mind of both individuals while absent from one other. John uses this theme as an illustration of the affinity that is revealed of Christ and is incumbent upon every sincere believer.

God’s love for His child is the key comparison that John gives in verse 3:1. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.” It is a manner that is out of this world, his words could be translated, “Of what country is the love of the Father.”

The word John chose to describe the love of God is agapao. It is defined as not a warm feeling, but “an intelligent, purposeful attitude of esteem and devotion; a selfless, purposeful, outgoing attitude that desires to do good to those loved.” In secular Greek it was defined this way: “the mind analyzes and the will chooses the object to be loved. Agapao is not a term wholly given to emotion, but it involves the whole man: emotions, intellect, and will. It is a deliberate free act that is the decision of the subject rather than the result of unbidden, overpowering emotion” (Hendriksen).

I have an outline I placed in my Bible back in my Bible college days. I do not know the name of the author, but his outline bears repeating. In describing the quality of the love of Christ, the preacher said that God’s love is “A love that does not let us off.” It is a love that does not give us a pass on sin and disobedience to Him. Hebrews 12:5f reads, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

His second point was that the love of God is “A love that never lets us down.” He chose Deuteronomy 7:7ff to illustrate: “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you….”

His final point was that the love of God is “A love that never lets us go.” He had us turn to Romans 8:28–39: “And we know that all things work together for good of those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

This sublime quality of God’s love that does not give up, and never ends, deserves the very best we can muster as we anticipate His return for us by love and obedience. For the saint, this has a purifying effect. The believer will be making morally honorable choices because he loves God.

The first key to being a hope-filled, God-loving Christian is to continually abide in God. Paul says, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” To abide is to remain in Christ. It is characterized by endurance and perseverance with a sustained faith.

The second key to being a hope-filled, God-loving Christian is practicing righteousness (“everyone who practices righteousness stands begotten upon Him”). Do right. Righteousness and righteous acts become a habit for those who love Him in awaiting His return. 1 Peter 1:3ff reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

The third key to being a hope-filled, God-loving Christian is to behold God’s love. Stand in awe of Him. Always remember that your love for Him is a direct response to His initiating, unflagging, rescuing, sacrificial, and total love for you. Romans 8:32 reads, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

The fourth key to being a hope-filled, God-loving Christian is that “we shall be like Him.” Romans 8:29 and Philippians 3:21 expound on this living transformation every true believer experiences from the moment of salvation.

The fifth key to being a hope-filled, God-loving Christian is self-purification in partnership with His transforming work, “purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Philippians 2:12f and 1 Corinthians 6:19ff support this thought. We love Him because He first loved us! Trust and obey.