1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us. –1 John 4:19

There is a hymn inspired by this one verse. It’s called My Jesus, I Love Thee. Have you heard of it? You may be familiar with the melody, perhaps as you’ve grown up hearing the “adults” sing it. I heard it as a child, but only as it was sung in the 1st-generation, Korean-language service, so I didn’t understand too much. A great many churches in Southern California no longer sing hymns, or if they do, they often sing the sentimental, sappy hymns (I Surrender All, In the Garden, Blessed Assurance, Fairest Lord Jesus) which have little theological depth. I’m not knocking every hymn that has emotion; but I find that hymns which so beautifully describe the love and hope of God as demonstrated through Christ and the cross stir up my own genuine emotions within me. We will sing this great hymn at church tomorrow.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’m very surprised to read on the Cyber Hymnal website that the author of this hymn, William R. Featherston, was 16 years old when he wrote this hymn in 1864. Here was a teenager who knew what love was. He wasn’t wooed by popular cultural notions of love as many Americans are today through the media and consumer holidays like Valentine’s Day. The Christian knows what love is. We love because God first loved us.

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