1 John 4:20-21
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Many people have asked me over and over again, “How can I love God?” This verse tells us one of the ways that we can love God. I can love God by loving the brethren. Notice this verse says that if I don’t love my brother that I don’t love God. That means if I wanted to show God that I love Him, I need to make sure that I love the brethren.
I want you to notice that it did not say to love the brethren that are easy to love; instead, it just says to love the brethren. It does not say to love those who can love me; rather, it just says to love the brethren. In other words, when I love a brother who is unlovable, I am loving God. When I love a brother that is hard to get along with, I am loving God. When I love the bus kid who comes to church and may be a little annoying, I am loving God. When I love the nursing home patient who is my brother, I am loving God. I believe that we have this truth messed up in our churches today.
As we look at verse 21, God takes this thought one step further by not only telling us how we can love Him, but now He is making this a commandment to love our brethren. God wants us to understand that this is no longer a choice, this is a commandment. So, whether they are lovable or unlovable, we are commanded to love the brethren, and by loving the brethren we are showing our love to God. There are a couple of thoughts that we can take from these verses to help us in loving God.
First, don’t make your love about the other’s capability to benefit you. Love has nothing to do with how it benefits you, but how it benefits the other. When Jesus came to the world to love the world, His love didn’t benefit Him at all. In fact, Jesus lost His life because of His love for the world. The test of your love for another is found in how much it cost you to love them. If the only time you find yourself showing love towards others is when they can do something for you, you are not showing love but affection.
Second, your inability to love the unlovable is a direct result of your lack of love for God. If you can’t love the person who has hurt you, you can’t love them because you don’t love God the way that you should. If you don’t love the person who has tried to destroy you, the inability to love them is a total reflection of your little love for God. The degree of your love for those who are unloveable is only revealing to the world how much you love God. You can’t say that you love God when you are hateful and spiteful toward others. If you are bent on trying to destroy a brother because you don’t like him or his position, you are doing so out of a lack of love for God. You can champion love, but your lack of loving the unlovable is showing your lack of love.
My question to you is this, how much do you love God? Do you find yourself only loving those who are lovable, or are you the type of person who loves everyone in the church? Let me challenge you to go about this week showing God how much you love Him by loving the unlovable; obeying this commandment shows God that you truly love Him.