“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

The Bible says in 1 John 4:19, “We love because [God] first loved us” (NIV). God is always first in everything. He takes the initiative. The only reason you can love God or anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by giving you everything you have in life. We love because God first loved us.

If you want to learn how to love other people, you’ve got to first understand and feel how much God loves you. When you feel that unconditional love, you’re going to start cutting people a lot of slack. You’re not going to be as angry as you’ve been in the past. You’re going to be more patient. You’re going to be more forgiving. You’re going to be more merciful. You’re going to show other people grace.

The reason why you see people who are judgmental, sarcastic, angry, self righteous, and always putting other people down is because they’re putting themselves down. They don’t feel good about themselves. They don’t feel loved. They don’t feel forgiven. They don’t feel grace. They feel guilty. They feel bad about themselves. And if they feel bad about themselves, they certainly don’t want you feeling good about you.

Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you’ve been hurt by parents or peers or partners. Maybe you’ve been abused or misused or rejected or abandoned or betrayed. You’ve got some scars on your heart.

You cannot give to others what you have not received yourself. Unlovely people are unloved people. Hurt people hurt people. If you’re filled with anger and impatience and you don’t feel loved, guess what? You’re not going to be able to love anybody else. You have to learn how much God loves you and let it heal your heart so his love can flow through you. It is impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.

The Bible says, “We know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16a). Do you know the love of God? Do you rely on the love of God for you? You will have a hard time loving other people until you have God’s love coming through you.

Talk It Over

  • Would you say that you love others with the love of God? How do you show that love to others?
  • Why would understanding God’s love help you show grace to others?

What hurt from your past is keeping you from accepting God’s love and showing it to others?