Holy Spirit, kindle the fire of love in our hearts. Amen.
1 John 4, 9-12. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
All that God does is love; and all creatures are witnesses that God loves. Blessed is he who sees it! But although the love of God is plainly to be seen in all his works, John speaks true when he says: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, that God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” For all God’s thoughts of love concerning us are brought to a focus, as it were, in his merciful decree, that his only begotten Son should become man and redeem us with his blood. From the manger in Bethlehem, from the baptism in the Jordan, and especially from Gethsemane and Calvary, the love of God shines out with a brightness which illuminates all his works. “What is it sparkles in the blood / From Jesus’ riven side that flowed? / The brightest beams of heavenly love, / Which fall upon us from above. / Now every hindrance which would stay / Our faith in God is cleared away. / Send doubt of whatsoever name / Back to the devil, whence it came!” It is in Christ that God loves and blesses us. Great, high, deep, living, is this love; he that believes it will love God in return, and thus God dwells in us. You complain that you can not love God and the brethren. Of a truth, it is deplorable; for where love is wanting, all gifts are in vain, and all works are nothing. But have you overlooked that which John says in our text: “Herein is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins?” Immediately before this he says: “Love is of God.” Let the Spirit teach us this lesson! Let him teach us, that we are beloved of God, and that his love is come to us in the Son; that it is given us in him, in that he became man, and died for us, and we were baptized into his death, and hear his gospel, and partake of his Holy Supper. Let the Spirit explain this to us, in order that we may believe the love of God. This love is a blessed reality which envelops us; if we believe, it enters our hearts, and dwells in us. Believe in love as the nature of God and the gift of God; believe that God loves you in Christ, before you love him; then you believe that which is true, that which God him self has spoken; and then you shall taste his love, and shall love him for that he loves you. — Persist until this love is become your life! Make no mistake; this love is of God, and is his gift to all them that believe.
God, let thy love humble us and dwell in us. Do thou, who art rich in mercy and in the desire to make us happy, give us this love; let our hearts be full of it, and let it be the living force and moving principle in all that we do. Amen.
Lamb of God, I look to thee;
Thou shalt my example be;
Thou art gentle, meek, and mild,
Thou wast once a little child.
Fain I would be as thou art;
Give me thy obedient heart;
Thou art pitiful and kind:
Let me have thy loving mind.