We love each other because he loved us first. (NLT)
So many of us reckon our biggest problem is that we don’t love God enough. That certainly is a problem, but it may not be the primary one. Our greater problem might be that we don’t appreciate how much God loves us.
Our text reminds us that God’s love for us is the first reality, the first love. Any love we practise is secondary. Our love for each other is a pale, imperfect, yet profound reflection of God’s love for us. Trying to conjure up love for others out of our own meagre resources will see us fail.
Not that we will fail to love lovely people: that comes naturally. But that we will fail to love those who don’t love us: that only comes supernaturally. Praying each day that we will show God’s sort of love to all sorts of people is not a bad way to start the day.
There is another aspect to this too. Only as I rest assured that I am loved unconditionally by God can I be free to love others. Knowing I am loved frees me from the neurotic suspicion that I am all alone in the universe and must look after myself because no one else will.
Loved people are more likely to be loving people. A wise writer once put it well: “As I look back on life, what matters in the end is that I have loved and been loved. Everything else is background music”.