If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
—1 John 4:20-21
John has often been referred to as “the apostle of love” and many of his writings express the depth of God’s love for man. In John 3:16, he wrote ” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
In 1 John 4:16, love is the divine attribute upon which John trains our attention: ” And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” By studying John, we come to know and understand the deep love which the Lord has for us and how important is it that we in turn, mirror His love in our lives. Love is one of God’s perfect and eternal attributes, and John explains that the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. However, John also warns: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
Christ is our example and pattern for life, and the outpouring of love on others is the outward demonstration of our soul. Not only does love cover a multitude of sins, but man’s God-given conscience also exposes the darkened heart of those who live falsely. The more we emulate the Christ and follow His example of love, the more the love of God is perfected in each of our lives. By guiding our lives with Christ’s example, we are making the world a better place.
The more the love of God is allowed to become who we are heart and soul, the greater will be our confidence in the day of trouble, and any fear of judgement or punishment will be eliminated. 1 John 4:18 tells us: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
And so as John explains, if someone says they love God but hate their brother, he is a liar and a deceiver. The person who says they love God with their lips but demonstrates hatred towards another in their attitude or heart, is not being truthful. John stresses in 1 John 4:20 that if we falsely profess to love God when there is hatred in our heart for our fellow man. If we follow in the footsteps of Christ, the greater will be his love towards our fellow humans, even those who are our enemies.
John argues that the closer we are in spirit to Christ the more we reflect the love of God in our words and actions, our attitude and behavior, our motive and mind, for how can someone say, “I love God,” and hate his brother. He can’t. He has identified himself as a liar: “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Let us love in spirit and in truth, in word and in deed, in motive and in mind.
January 15th, 2023 at 10:47 am
All humans are imperfect, unfinished, incomplete and immature. We are sent as imperfect beings to an imperfect world to seek perfection even though, as humans, we can never be perfect in our lifetime. Seeking perfection can cause stress as perfection can never be obtained. Stress can manifest itself as insomnia, depression, ulcers and high blood pressure. Seeking perfection is futile without the balm of love. Love can conquer. God is love. God is perfect. Therefore the way to perfection is love. Love allows us to accept the flaws in others and in ourselves.