The Conclusion of God's Love. (1 John 4:19 5:3)
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. (KJV).
"...God's love is the cause of ours..." (Lenski).
Pride would lift up the heart and say "I love God!" John reminds us all that we Love only because God first Loved us and in His Grace became the progenitor of His Love in us. The very first time we become aware of His Love is at Calvary - even as enemies of God, we are drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit. It was Jesus Christ who demonstrated God's Love - He lived It for the disciples - they knew It and believed It (see verse 16) - then at Pentecost they received the ability to so Love.
All believers Love because they are placed arm-in-arm with It - see comments on previous verse regarding this. It all goes back to our Heavenly Father - because He so Loved us Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins - because He Loved us His Love is bestowed on us - given to us. It is not ours except as we have received It as His. But with His Love we are able to be like our Lord, Jesus Christ - we are able to Love our brothers in Christ - we are able to Love our Lord with all our heart as He commands.
"Seen but Not Heard"
1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (KJV).
Hypocrisy in a believer can spawn many words about his love for God. But if he is not demonstrating God's Love toward his brothers in Christ his claim to love God can only be termed hypocrisy. John uses the argument closely resembling Paul's ad majori ad minus from the greater to the lesser where the ability to perform the most difficult thing guarantees the ability to perform the less difficult. Here it is reversed - a man who says "I love God" (the more difficult thing to perform) yet hates his brother (the less difficult thing to perform) is living a lie. John is using sort of a reversed logic to prove a point - that if we are going to claim to love God, whom we cannot see, we must use the reality check of whether or not we Love our brother - if not the latter than certainly not the former.
Words do not prove Love. James made this point in his book (James 2:14-17) - John the same in 3:18. Acts of graciousness, consideration and acts out from application of God's Word express His Love. God's Love is energetic, not quiescent. His Love must be expressed from believer to believer. Let us be seen by our acts of graciousness and consideration for each other - the Love we so much like to talk about will be self-evident.
Loving the Begotten of Him.
1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. (NIV)
Interesting parallel. Simply stated, anyone who believes that Jesus is the Anointed One is born of God. If that person claims to Love God, the Father, he should Love another one who has been born of God. The commentary of The Complete Biblical Library makes the point that it is impossible to separate the child from the parent. The commentary goes on to say that anyone who loves God must have a special affection for His child.
Loving our Heavenly Father and Keeping His
Proves Our Love for Each Other.
1 John 5:2 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: and his commandments are not grievous. (KJV, my emphasis)
Respect for the authority of our parents in the home give us capacity to love each other. This originates from our parents loving our Heavenly Father and obeying Him. "We know..." is our old friend ginosko a term of intimate relationship. The more we obey Him - the more we Love Him - the more we "know" that we Love each other. Eliminate any point in this chain and the capacity for Loving diminishes or is nullified altogether.
Vs 3a) Note the inclusive relationship between obedience and the capacity to Love Him. There is no room for the believer who has reserve for serving the Lord - whole-hearted service to Him is an absolute requirement. To do less is to sabotage our relationship with Him.
Vs 3b) "...grievous..." = not difficult to carry not too heavy. Similar in thought to Deut 30:11-
Deut 28:1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
Deut 30:11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?"  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (NIV)
The setting for this passage is when Israel was given the Lord's blessing and cursings at mount Ebal and mount Gerizm. This is the so-called Palestinian covenant, a conditional covenant - if Israel obeyed God then He would bless them - if they disobeyed them He would "curse" them, discipline them heavily. Note 30:11. Lest the Israelite think that the Lord's commandments were too far beyond their reach to obey, the Lord tells them such was not the case. I think that the Lord promised a special ministry for each Israelite so that he would remember the commandments and so avoid the discipline. Verse 14 promises this to the Israelite: "No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it." Please remember that the printed page was not a common commodity in those days - it would have been easy for them to forget the Lord's commandments. No, He promised to keep His word very near - so near that it was in their mouth (from recitation) and in their hearts (from memorization) so that they might obey it. The key here was that the Israelite must have the willingness to obey it.
In this way the Lord's commandments are not burdensome. He promises a special ministry to each and everyone of us that the Holy Spirit will be our teacher, helping us to remember His Word - leading us as a father would in instruction. The desire to obey His Word must be there in the heart.
1. 1 John 3:1 [ Back ]
2. Deut 6:5; 11:1; 19:9; Matt 22:37. [ Back ]