Love is Central
To anyone who reads the first epistle of John, it will soon become apparent that love is a central fact and a crucial commandment. The noun and the verb, agape and agapao in the Greek, appear 37 times in this short letter, mostly in chapters 3 and 4.
The central fact is that God is love (4.8). Love comes from God. Every man who truly loves is God's son and knows Him (4.7 JBP). God sent His Son into the world out of His love for us ‑ so can we do less than love Him? The new commandment that Jesus gave (John 13.34) was to love one another as Jesus has loved us. And "If we love each other" says John in his letter, "God does actually live within us, and His love grows in us toward perfection." (4.12 JHP) This is guaranteed by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The love we share must not be theoretical but practical (3.18). God, who is also Light (1.5) knows our minds and reads our hearts. The extent of our loving should reflect the love of Jesus, who laid down His life in order to meet our great need. His orders are that we should put our trust in His name and love one another (3.23). This commandment is crucial.
We may feel lacking in love. But we should not feel guilty, because God, who loves us, knows everything about us (3.20) including the reasons we fall short. What to the best of our ability we must and can do, is to trust Him and obey Him, in particular the commandment to love.
If we love we are born of God, we know God, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us (4.7.12 AV). Is there any higher privilege for a Christian? The humblest and most ignorant believer who loves has this privilege. When thinking of other believers, we do well not to dwell on their accurate doctrines, or importance, or gifts, but whether we can perceive any evidence that they are growing in love. More to the point, am I?