1JN 4:20 ESV
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.
Do I read this and hope that when the scripture says brother that it only means other people practicing the same lifestyle as me?
Or do I hope that everyone I encounter daily might be an opportunity for me to love someone else as my brother?
There is a big difference in those two perspectives.
The example that Jesus taught was to extend love and hope to everyone, even though not everyone will accept it – and even fewer that accept it will return love for the love they received.
Yes, we love our brothers not so we can be loved in return, and not as a reward for their apparent loyalty, but because they need love, and we have love in Christ who lives in us.
No, we don’t have to withhold our love, trying to judge who does or doesn’t deserve it, because none deserve anything less than death – not one is worthy of God’s grace outside the mercy of Christ.
So we love others because we know undeserved love ourselves. We know this love because our teacher shows us this love. He is love.
May we each find more Christ in us today, friends. Both in the love we receive when we call out to Jesus Christ to fill our lives with His presence and guidance, and in the love and service as we open our eyes to the opportunities around us to let His love spill out onto those around us.
Help me love in actions, not just in words. Don’t let my words be empty and full of hypocrisy. Help keep me accountable and aware of my many shortcomings. If I am bold enough to speak it, I should be willing to take the stripes of examination that are inevitable in this world of men judging men, wolves eating wolves, and resistance to truth.
We are all brothers through Adam. We can also be brothers in Christ. But what good does it do to exclude those we think aren’t “qualified” brothers in Christ from our love? Aren’t our brothers in Adam the ones that need love and healing the most in their lives?
And yes, there are circumstances where we can tell by Galatians 5 whether someone is a slave to their flesh or is alive in Christ. But are we seeking harder with hope to find a glimpse of Christ in them, battling their way through their trials towards their final destination?
Or are we more determined to seek out opportunities to find evil, so we can stand in judgement and accusation against our brother – who is no more worthy of hell than ourselves.
This is not salvation that we have earned. It is freely given so that none might boast and so that none are justified in their judgement and accusations.
If I am going to be judged by the same measure that I judge others, don’t I want to be merciful? Don’t I myself need mercy? Isn’t it clear that I am doomed without mercy and grace?
So let’s be merciful, because the Lord desires mercy, not sacrifice. If we are His, we don’t slay our brothers and offer them as a sacrifice, that sounds suspiciously like Cain.
Let’s set our sights on Christ, and Christ alone as our goal.