“We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers”
(1 John 4:19-21, NLT)
One of my favourite games during Bible Study is “pretending.” What did you like to pretend when you were a child? That you are a police? Parent? Doctor or nurse? Missionary or preacher? Superman or Batman? What? There are many people who grow up and still pretend. When they try to act concerned, they appear to be phony (a.k.a. plastic!). There is something about their tone of voice and their actions which doesn’t seem to ring true. We wonder if there are strings attached to their efforts, if they want something in return.
For many of us, loving may not be a natural or easy thing to do. If we’re really honest, most of us would have to admit that we live most of our lives looking out for Number One – ourselves. To care about others can seem like such an obligation. We may hope that if we look the other way we can get away without having to love others. After all, aren’t we supposed to love ourselves as well?
Let me try, at least, to clear this up. True, we are to love ourselves – but that is only part of what God wants us to do. We are to love God because God first loved us. God has shown us that we count, that we are worthwhile and important. So, we can accept ourselves and appreciate who we are because of what God has done for us. But that is still only half the story. To say that we love God and still not really care about others is to be a phony – “a liar”, in the Apostle John’s words. Jesus Himself says, “[I am] giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).
How can we say “I love God” – whom we have not really seen, and “hate” or avoid loving other people – whom we can see? John says we just can’t get away from it. To love God means we must learn to love other people. To show that we belong to God, and to show the world that God is real in us, we must get beyond what may not at first feel natural and do what is really supernatural – to love and care for people, no matter how much or how little they deserve this love. That is how people will know that there really is a loving and compassionate God. “Those who love God must also love their fellow believers (first)” – and other people.
What are the practical ways you can show that you care about others today?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.