Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)
Let me give you my very literal translation of this verse: "Behold ye, of what sort of love the Father hath bestowed upon (given to) us, that we should be named children of God, and we are; and because of this the world does not know (begin to understand) us, because it did not know (begin to understand) Him."
John is saying that we do not expect to be the sons of God, we are the sons of God. A better translation includes the words "and we are." The child of God can say emphatically, "I am a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ." We don't hope to be, we don't expect to be, but the thrilling fact is that every believer can exult and rejoice and constantly thank Him that he is God's child. We are boasters not in ourselves, but we are boasting of the wonderful Shepherd that we have.
The kind of love that John is talking about is a strange kind of love, an unusual kind of love, a kind of love to which we are not accustomed. God loves us. What manner of love the Father has for us! The love of God — that is, His love for us — is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. John will go on to show that God has demonstrated His love by giving His Son to die for us. How many of us have someone who would die for us? How many folk would you be willing to die for? God loves you, and He has proven His love — He gave His Son to die for you.
The greatest motivating force in the world is God's love. Love is the greatest drive in the human family. A man falls in love with a woman, a woman falls in love with a man, and some make such tremendous sacrifices for each other. When human love is genuine, it is a beautiful thing, it is a noble thing, it is a wonderful thing, and it is a tremendous drive. But God's love for His children far exceeds anything we can experience on the human plane.
The true child of God is going to prove his spiritual birth by being obedient to God's Word. God's wonderful love for us should motivate us. It is that which is going to cause us to want to live for God. Behold, what an unusual kind, what a different kind of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God.
—From Dr. J. Vernon McGee's Edited Messages on 1 John ©1994