Thursday, March 15, 2018

Loving God By Loving Our Brother

This morning, my time with God confronted me with this simple challenge: “whoever loves God must also love his brother.”[1]

Okay, I said simple; I did not say easy.

By “brother,” it doesn’t seem to limit our thoughts to siblings alone, or even to the church brotherhood alone, but to relationships with our fellow-man in which we share life as brothers. At the very least, I think there is substantial reason to believe that God wants his children to love everyone that we can apply this to whoever is in our lives.

My journey this morning was to consider what the context of this verse tells us that would call for such a conclusion of loving our brothers as an expression of loving God. Join me in working through these verses.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.[2]

Everything begins with us abiding in Jesus and Jesus abiding in us,[3] which means that our ability to love our brothers comes from this relationship, not from our relationship to our brothers, or sisters, or anyone we ought to love who may not make it easy to do so.

As we abide in Jesus, and Jesus in us, we experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit at work within us, which means we are able to love to the degree of our fellowship with the Holy Spirit, not the degree of our fellowship with our brothers. However we say it, the primary factor in our ability to love others is our love-relationship with God. That gives us everything we need to love others.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.[4]

The call to love overs is all founded upon the work of God in which he has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world, which means we are able to love as saved people in a way we could not love when we were not saved.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.[5]

Our lives are now based on our confession that Jesus is the Son of God, not on our rehearsing whatever our brothers have done to us. This means that it is what we confess about Jesus that determines our freedom to love our brothers. Our abiding relationship with God cannot be affected by what our brothers do to us, which means that we are always free to love as God loves, no matter who we are to love, or how they have treated us. God-sized love comes from God-trusting children.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.[6]

It is on the basis of our experience of salvation that we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us, which means that the way we are able to love our brothers also comes from our experience of salvation, not our experience of them.

Since God is love, and abiding in God means abiding in love, we are able to love our brothers because of our experience of God’s love. There is nothing our brothers can do to us to diminish our love because our love comes from God who is love, not from them who may be rather unloving.

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.[7]

It is through this abiding relationship with God and his love that love is perfected in us. No amount of unloving treatment from others can force us to be unloving towards them since they are not the measure of how much we love.

In this abiding relationship with God, we are like him in this world. We are not like the world in the world, and we do not act like our unloving brothers in the world, but we express what our God is like. No amount of worldly treatment from our brothers can affect the maturity of our love, but loving our brothers when they are unloving towards us is one more expression of loving as God loves us.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.[8]

Since there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, we do not relate to our brothers in any kind of fear-based responses, but relate always in love-based responses because God’s relationship with us is love-based.

We love because he first loved us.[9]

Since the measure of our love is that “we love because he first loved us”, the reality that God is love is what enables us to love, meaning, once again, that we could never hate our brothers because of sinful things they have done to us since our love for them comes from God’s love for 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.[10]

When we hate our brother, we cannot say we love God, since a love-relationship with God would make us loving towards the undeserving, which means that anyone who claims to love God while hating his brother is a liar. If we do love God, we will mature in his love.

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.[11]

Jesus told us that if we love him we will keep his commandments,[12] and since his commandment is, “whoever loves God must also love his brother”, any denial of love to a brother is a denial of Jesus’ authority over our love, and a denial of his abiding effect on our love.

Conclusion: Everything about loving our brothers, no matter what they have done to us, is based on our experience of love-relationship with God and what he has done for us. This is the freedom; that God has so loved us that we are able to so love others, even when they are just as sinful towards us as we have been towards God.

Application: to relate to others out of a conscious hunger and thirst for the deepest possible experience of love-relationship with God so that everything expressed from my life is the love of God in me.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I John 4:21
[2] I John 4:13
[3] Compare this to John 15:1-11
[4] I John 4:14
[5] I John 4:15
[6] I John 4:16
[7] I John 4:17
[8] I John 4:18
[9] I John 4:19
[10] I John 4:20
[11] I John 4:21
[12] John 15:9-17

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