The Mississippi River is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest river in the world. It is 2,320 miles long, 200 feet deep and one mile wide at its widest point. Any idea where it starts? As a tiny babbling brook in northern Minnesota near Lake Itasca. Everything starts somewhere. Every program, thought, decision, activity and action has a source.
What should the source of loving your neighbor be?
No act of love or service towards the poor should be separated from a growing, vibrant relationship with Jesus. Our missions (the acts of loving our neighbor) should be an overflow of God’s love in us.
1 John 4:7-8 states that God is the source of all love.
“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
John goes on to say in verse 9 that God models what genuine love is.
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9
And finally, in 1 John 4:11, God then commands each of us to love one another:
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
God is the source of love. The purpose of this passage is to show how God’s love should flow through humans and onto others. Like the electricity running through electrical wires, love comes from God to us, then flows through us to others in the community.  God’s incredible love towards us and in us should compel us to love our neighbor.
I know from personal experience that, when I genuinely pursue God and His word, my heart for serving other people expands. Has it ever happened to you? Have there been times where you have walked closely with God and have witnessed a more open and willing heart to serve and love others?
Professor Marianne Meye Thompson explains the idea so wonderfully here:
“Those who are in touch with the very source of love, who have been shown what love is and who are the recipients of a great and healing love, can receive the commandment (love your neighbor) with hope and joy. For they are not commanded to do something that is alien to their experience or beyond their ability to learn and to do.” 
Loving our neighbor should not be about conjuring up a false love that tries to kindly care for our neighbor only to release a sigh of relief when the task is “finished.” Instead our love for neighbor should be a response that naturally flows from what we have experienced in Christ Jesus. Will we do it perfectly? No, we are human. But the deeper we fall in love with Jesus the more our heart will be compassionately molded to fall in love what He loves: people. And when we allow Christ to love people through us, our own relationship with Him grows and deepens.
The Mississippi River expands and grows with each mile of its journey and is found complete at its delta in Louisiana. Having finished its voyage, its impact is far reaching. So too is God’s love. It grows, expands and is “made complete” (John 4:12) as it flows from God, through us and into the lives of others. Make Jesus your center and source and God will impact and transform your life as well as others through your neighborly love. Thompson, Marianne Meye. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series; 1-3 John. Downers Grove, Ill, InterVarsity Press. 1992. Print.