1Jn 4:19-21 “We love him, because he first loved us. 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.”
The reason we love God is simple. Our love for God is our response to His love for us. Ezekiel 16:4-8 describes our condition when God looked upon us. We were cast out and left to die, described as a new born baby whose umbilical cord had not been cut. From a purely human standpoint, we understand that a baby in this condition is sure to die if left unattended. When our wondrous God passed by and saw us polluted in our own blood, ready to die, He spoke life unto us.
Just as He spoke the world into existence and it was so, He speaks life to us and we live. In the eighth verse of this passage in Ezekiel He says our time was a time of love. We were as an infant fresh from the womb and all but dead. In this condition, it is impossible to think that we could have decided to love God. This amazing God who said to us “Live!” looked upon us while we were altogether unlovely and unlovable and loved us anyway. Our time was a time of love!
It is good to speak of our love for Him, but loving God is not just about our response with our lips. The true expression of our love for God comes from our behavior. How many times have we said we love Him but our behavior has not proved it? How many times have we been guilty of hating our brother and wishing him ill? Joseph spoke truth to his brothers and they hated him for it. Have we ever hated someone for telling us the truth? Do we go so far as to despise our elder brother, Jesus, because He tells us the truth? Before we answer that with an “Of course not!” we need to consider all the times we have willingly walked contrary to His instruction in our lives. It is true that actions speak louder than words.
God’s love for us is not just about how He feels toward us; it is about His actions toward us. In the same manner, our love for God is not in how we feel toward Him; it is expressed in our behavior toward each other. We cannot behave with malice toward our brother and then say we love our God. The way we treat our brother is a direct expression of our love for Him.
The scripture teaches us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (not how we feel but what we do). John says that we have this commandment from Him “That he who loveth God love his brother also.” There is no equivocation in this. We are to love our brother if we want to express our love for God.
May we love our brother with joyous abandon and great liberty for so shall we love our God!