True love is derived from God. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.” (1John 4:16 NIV) It is God’s life giving presence in us that allows us to truly love, not as man loves and describes it, but as God loves and has demonstrated it in the gift of His Son. It is this love where we abide in God and God abides in us that gives us confidence for the future when we appear in the presence of God, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” (1 John 4:17 NIV). Yes, there is a coming judgment. We will appear before Jesus. The reason we can have confidence TODAY that the outcome will be good for us is based in part on the fact that “in this world we are like Jesus.” Our confidence is based on Jesus’ work on the cross for us and His transformation of our lives since we accepted Him as our Savior. Obviously, if a person’s life does not reflect the life of Jesus then their confidence of a good outcome when they stand before Jesus in judgment might bring them some anxiety or fear.
John says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV) Our punishment for sin was carried on the back of Jesus on the cross. So we should not fear standing before God when the time comes. But when a person’s ongoing lifestyle does not reflect the fact they have a relationship with Jesus then it is easy to see how fear can overtake that person because in this world we should be like Jesus (1 John 4:16) Maybe their fear is there because they really haven’t established a relationship with Jesus. God does not intend for His children to live in fear in this life or for eternity. God wants us to have peace and hope in this life and the road to that happening is the development of God’s love in us working out of us for all to see, including ourselves.
We need to remember, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Left to ourselves we human beings are sinful self-centered lost people. Because of God’s love for us and our new found relationship with Jesus we can begin to let God’s love live through us. But we need to remember that the first step in that relationship was put forth by God and not by any inherent goodness we may think we have. Our new found love in Christ is expected to bring about a new found love for our fellow human beings. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:20-21 NIV)
Is there a connection between Godly love, confidence in the light of judgment, our demonstration of love for other people, and our relationship with God? These things are like links in a chain and bring clarity to the true love found in Jesus Christ. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV)