You can tell the quality of someone’s love by what it does — the actions it takes. Love is an action word. It has direction. It’s never idle. So what does love do? Love pursues and love sacrifices. In 1 John 4:9-10, this exactly the kind of love we see.
1 John 4:9a // In this the love of God was made manifest among us…
John says that God’s love was made manifest among us — it was made known. Something happened that made God’s love evident. An event took place that allowed us to see clearly that we are deeply loved by God. What was it? God sent his Son — he pursued us.
1 John 4:9 // In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
God the Father loves you and loves me enough that he sent the most precious thing he could — his very son. The greatest evidence of God’s love you is that Jesus — who called galaxies into existence and sustains them by the word of his power — stepped into your story. There is nothing greater for God to give. There is no greater action he could take. Jesus stepped into our story to pursue us when we were lost and far from him, in order that we might live through him. Jesus is “Exhibit A” of God’s love for you and me. Jesus is both the message and the messenger of God’s love for you. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world.” But as John continues to write we see that God’s love was made manifest another way.
1 John 4:10 // In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The second way you can know God loves you is that He sacrifices. That word propitiation is a big word that means wrath removing sacrifice. Jesus is our propitiation. He is our wrath removing sacrifice. God loves you but he is also perfect. And only perfect people can live in the presence of a perfect God. This is really bad news because we have something we don’t want — sin. And, we need something we don’t have — perfect righteousness. How could sinful people who deserve God’s wrath every abide in a loving relationship with him?
The answer is that Jesus became our wrath removing sacrifice. He took the cup of wrath that you and I deserve and drank every last bit of it. How do you know you are loved by God? Because Jesus sacrificed the glories of heaven to live in the world he created and to serve people who hated him. He was born in a feeding bin for cattle and when he grew up he didn’t have a place to lay his head.
And even though he healed the sick, cast out demons, and fed the hungry, people hated him and when it was all said and done, they nailed him to a cross and the Creator of the world became the Savior of the world through suffering and through sacrifice.
John 15:13 // Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
But Jesus didn’t simply lay down his life for a friend. He laid down his life for enemies — for people who hated him.
Romans 5:7-8 // Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do you struggle to feel loved by God? Look to the cross. There we see Jesus, absorbing the wrath that you and I deserve, dying on our behalf, and giving us his righteousness in exchange that we might live through him. And if you’ll simply give your life to him, you can know that when God sees you, he doesn’t see an enemy, he sees a child whom he loves dearly.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I welcome any questions, sarcastic comments, or additional thoughts you may have. Please feel free to reach out HERE — seriously! If you were helped by something you read, please share it with your sphere of influence. Thanks!
 The observations about love (i.e., love pursues and sacrifices) are adapted from Ben Stuart’s book titled, “Single. Dating. Engaged. Married (pg. 8).”