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Loving God, Loving Others

Loving God, Loving Others

23 August 2009

Scripture:

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters. (1 John 4:20-21 NLT)

In 1 John 4:7-21, the word “love” is used 26 times. God loves us, we love God, we love other people. God shows his love by sending his Son to die for our sin. We lose our fear because we know God loves us. God enables us to love others by filling us with his Holy Spirit. God commands us to love – from the heart – because he loves us and fills us with love so we can love. We love God because of gratitude and we love others because of the love capacity God’s Spirit has given us.

When I read this, I go through a heart and soul-searching time. I think through my attitudes, my words, my actions, and my motivations. I think about whether I’m acting out of love or out of obligation, responsibility, peer-pressure, guilt, or fear. If it’s not about love, it’s not going to cut it.

So does that mean I have to like everyone? Face it, there are personalities and friendships and all kinds of factors that determine who we like to be with and with whom we will build our closest relationships. But if I find myself wishing someone ill, I’ve got a problem.

Does that mean I can’t ever get angry with someone? People hurt people. And hurt people hurt people even more. In any interaction of relationships there will be hurt, misunderstanding, disappointment, frustration, and anger. We get angry and we get over it. We get hurt and we forgive – and we get over it. But if I find myself controlled by anger, resentment, or bitterness, and wishing someone ill, I’ve got a problem.

Prayer:

Father, here I am a mature man and a mature Christ-follower, and yet when I read these words from you to me through John, I feel like a little kid starting all over again. Your Word has the ability to make me think seriously and deeply about the attitudes and motivations of my heart. Help me to receive your love completely and give your love unconditionally. Amen.

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