Most of us wouldn’t want to start watching a movie halfway through. And we wouldn’t pick up a new novel and start reading on page 188. We understand the need for context.
Yet we will pick out a single verse of scripture and make an application without considering what the Bible says before or after that single verse.
I recently saw a Bible study lesson based on 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” According to the curriculum’s teaching plan, the main point was, “Because God loves us, we are supposed to love others.”
Many Christians probably see it that way. But the verses immediately before 1 John 4:19 describe how “love comes from God.” And, “His love is made complete in us.” And, “we live in him and he lives in us and he has given us his Spirit.”
The main point is not that I am supposed to love others because God loves me. The main point is that I am able to love others because God loves me. I will love others when God’s love is in me.