The Connection Between
God Loving Us
Us Loving Him and Others

Grantley Morris

Knowing Godís Love

Deep Bible Revelation

* * *

1 John 4:19 leaves us in no doubt that our love is a consequence of God first loving us, but does this apply to us loving everyone or only to loving God? And is this all-or-nothing, or does our love vary according to how aware we are of Godís love for us?

It would be foolish to suppose that just because it works for me I have uncovered a truth that applies to everyone, or a correct interpretation of Scripture. I find that the more conscious I am of Godís love for me, the more my love for him deepens, and likewise my love for others deepens. What about you? And what does Scripture say?

First, some basic biblical facts.

1. God is good to everyone:

    Matthew 5:45  . . . your Father who is in heaven . . . he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

    Acts 14:17 [In a sermon to pagans] Yet he didnít leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

2. Godís love might be constantly set to maximum but the Bible acknowledges what we know intuitively about human love: it can vary in intensity. (For confirmation see this short note: Human Love Can Increase or Decrease: Biblical Proof.) One indication is Jesus saying that the person who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). If the wages of sin is death and all have sinned, how can anyone be more indebted to God than anyone else? I donít for a moment think anyone forgiven by God has a right to be less grateful for that forgiveness than someone else. Surely, the only way people can differ is in their awareness of how much love it took for God to forgive them.

We have noted that John 4:19 links God loving us with us subsequently loving him and that God loves everyone. Not everyone returns that love however. So the link cannot merely be the fact of Godís love. The critical factor would seem to be our awareness of that love and response to it.

Moreover, Jesus saying that the person who is forgiven much loves much points to a proportional relationship between Godís love (as manifested by his forgiveness) and our love: the extent of our love for God seems directly related to how much we realize we are loved of God.

There is also evidence that this principle applies not only to the greatest command but to the second most important Ė loving other people (Mark 12:29-31).

It is argued that when originally penned, 1 John 4:19 did not specify us loving God but the original text is broader and simply says we love because he first loved us. So strong is the manuscript evidence for this that more Bible versions omit Ďhimí than include it. This opens the possibility that the principle applies to loving people as well as to loving God. In fact, a tiny portion of versions even render this as applying exclusively to loving others.

In any case, Scripture links loving God with loving people. Jesus placed the two side by side:

    Mark 12:29-31  . . . The greatest is, ĎHear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.í This is the first commandment. The second is like this, ĎYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.í There is no other commandment greater than these(Comment).

Similarly these Scriptures link the two:

    Matthew 25:40  . . . because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

    John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments.

    John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. . . .

    1 John 4:7-8  . . . everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. He who doesnít love doesnít know God, for God is love.

    1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.

    1 John 4:20-21  . . . he who doesnít love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.

    1 John 5:3  . . . Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. . . .




Bible Versions Used
(Unless otherwise specified)

King James Version

Place mouse or equivalent over a Bible reference on-line

World English Bible
(Slightly Modified)

Appears in the text

For more information, see Bible Version Dilemmas