1 John 4:19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 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. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
There is something so powerful about the first verse in this passage. We love because he first loved us. Maybe it's similar to how kids learn to love from their parents.
How do we learn to love others? By understanding and experiencing the love God has for us.
How do we love our friends? By having our lives changed by the truth that Jesus has called us his friends, and loved us unconditionally.
How do we love our family? By realizing that Jesus has called us sons and daughters, welcoming us into his family, and placing us all into the family of God.
How can we love those who are different from us? Because God loved us when we were different (human, sinful, mortal, etc), becoming like us, taking on the form of a man, in order to teach us and show us love.
How can we possibly love our enemies? Because God loved us while we were his enemies.
How can we love those who wrong us? Because God loved us when we were still sinners, actively walking in violation of relationship with him.
With the love that we have been loved by God, we are to love others. The flow of love doesn't start with us. It comes from God, through us, to others. His love teaches us, shapes us, changes us, and refines us. His love inspires us to love like he loves. His love is the standard by which our love is measured.
When we struggle to love others, it reveals that we haven't fully known his love for us yet. Or it reveals that we haven't fully grasped our need for his love. If we truly knew our own sinfulness, brokenness, and need for a savior, we would not struggle with loving others as much. The love of God for you and I is so profound, saving us from an impossible position, that once we fully realize and appreciate how miraculous and life-saving that love is, we will have no excuse but to love others unconditionally. This is why John says anyone who says "I love God" but hates his brother is a liar. Because you can't fully know and love God (and experience his love for you) and still actively hate someone else. If we have hatred and discord in our hearts, it's a symptom of not fully knowing his love for us.
Today, let's pray for God to continue to reveal his love for us, so we can grow and become people who love like he loves.
I pray that you would open my heart and eyes to appreciate and experience your amazing love for me. I pray that you would teach me how to love others, like you have loved me.