“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:19-21
God’s Holy Spirit uses the apostle John to point out something important to those who follow Jesus – we could not love God if He did not first love us. There are many words in the Bible that are used to describe God. He is “omniscient” (all-knowing), “omnipotent” (all-powerful), “omnipresent” (everywhere at the same time), faithful, just, and righteous. However, first and foremost, God is “Love.”
Let me ask you a question, “Why do you love God?” We generally love people we are attracted to, they are fun to be with, they have interests similar to our own, or some other reason that benefits us.
Yet, the Bible tells us, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Think about that for a minute. God is Holy, and yet He loved us when we loved sin. God loved us when we loved the things that He hated. That is truly amazing love. It is unselfish and unconditional. That is why God is Love!
Verse 19 begins, “We love.” Surely because God first loved us and did so unconditionally and lavishly, we should respond by loving Him. I am sure that most of you reading this will say, “I do love God!” If asked to give evidence of your love for God, many would say, “I lead a Growth Community,” or “I work with the youth ministry.” Others may say, “I attend a Bible study,” or “I have gone on prison trips.” These are all wonderful ways to show you love God, but that is not the point John is stressing here.
John says that if you really love God, you will love people. If you love God, you will love what He loves – people. As a point of emphasis, John says this is a commandment from God, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
People are not always easy to love. This is even sometimes true of other Christians. However, if we truly love God and are filled with His Holy Spirit, we will have love (which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit) flowing out of us to people. God will give us a love for others, despite their imperfections, because He is Love.
We need to show everyone how much we love God by loving those He loves, imperfect people.