Did you know that loving God requires loving man? Now, why would God say a thing like that? Doesn’t He know how rotten people can be? I think I can love God and hate my brother. I can manage.
1 John 4:20 says, If anyone says, I love God yet hates his brother, he isa liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot loveGod, whom he has not seen. What kind of logic is that? Divine of course.It’s along the same lines as Forgive us our debts, as we also haveforgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12). These are hard teachings.
What God is saying here is that I cannot truly enter into a fully loving relationshipwith Him and still hate my brother. The reason I think I can is that I don’tfully understand what love is. God does and He tells me that I am not reallyloving Him if I hate my brother. He knows that I love Him for what He does forme. He knows He created me to love Him for Who He is. God is love.
I don’t want my love for God to be dependent on how I love my brother orwhether I forgive him, but it is. When I accept this fact and admit that I ampowerless to love my brother God shows me how wonderful it really is. And youknow what? I do love Him more. It’s the same with forgiveness. God doesn’ttell us that He will forgive us only as we forgive others because He is a tit-for-tatGod. It’s not like that at all. It is His invitation to become the kindof being He, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are. He wants us to forgive others aswe have been forgiven. When we do that, we are experiencing the love we werecreated to have.
It’s too easy for us to settle for earthly love. We love because otherslove us. We love because the person loving is somehow worthy of our love. Godwants to teach us real love. Real love loves. Real love never hates—evenenemies. Real love finds its source in the love of God. Real love brings contentmentto the soul. Real love can stand the test of hateful brothers without hatingin return.
You won’t know this kind of love unless you allow the Holy Spirit to doit through you. My favorite Broadway musical is Les Miserables. Thereis a line in one of the songs that fully explains what 1 John 4:20 is stating.It goes, To love another person is to see the face of God. I know thatI haven’t actually seen the face of God when I love my brother, but I knowthat when I love like that and look into the mirror I see more of God in me.I am closer to the being God created me to be. He never created me to hate. Heonly created me for love.
In the end, I can find no better motivation than my desire to love God as myreason to love my brother. My brother can be cranky, insensitive, unlovable.I can’t love my brother based on how he treats me. I can always love mybrother if my focus is on loving God. It’s a Divine Mystery that leadsto deep fulfillment in your soul. I hope you too will live out this prerequisitefor love.