In 1 John 4:7–8, the apostle John instructs believers, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NKJV). God is love (1 John 4:8), and those who have been forgiven and saved by Him reflect His love. Believers will impact the world by showing others God’s love, and this must begin with the beloved heeding the instruction to love one another.
John addresses believers as the “beloved.” Calling believers “beloved” brings to mind God’s sacrificial love (John 3:16). A believer acknowledges he is a sinner, realizes that Jesus took the penalty for his sins on the cross and then rose again, and puts his trust in Jesus alone for salvation (Acts 4:12). He knows he is genuinely loved by God, and his life is transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17). A believer receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation along with a new capacity to love like Christ loves (Romans 5:5).
Jesus taught His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Then He added, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). People don’t naturally love with a godly, 1 Corinthians 13-type of love. To love like that, there must be a change of heart. A distinguishing mark of a follower of Christ is a deep, sincere love for brothers and sisters in Christ. True believers love not only “with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
There are several “one another” commands in Scripture revealing what it looks like to love one another. Believers are called to be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50), be of the same mind as one another (Romans 12:6; 15:5), have patience with one another and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), speak the truth to one another (Ephesians 4:25), pray for one another (James 5:16), and exhibit other qualities of the Spirit. Indeed, believers are called to love one another several times (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11; 2 John 5) and are practically instructed on what that love looks like. It is this kind of sacrificial love that shows the world who God is in hopes that others will repent and experience God’s love and forgiveness.
Believers can obey God’s Word and love one another by the power of the Holy Spirit. A believer shows Christ’s unconditional, sacrificial, and forgiving love to fellow believers, but he does not stop there. He also shows the love of Christ to friends, family members, co-workers, and even enemies (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:43–48; Romans 13:10). God’s love compels believers to love one another.