December 19

He Brings Brotherly Love Along with Salvation

I John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

I John 4:20-21 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

What wondrous revelations and observations we find in I John. In the third chapter, we get another “proof of salvation” that helps us know that we have found life in God. A way “we know that we have passed from death to life” is because we have love for our brothers and sisters. Augustine says it clearly: “Let each go to his own heart; if he find there love to the brethren, let him feel assured that he has passed from death unto life.”

The Lord brings love of His Bride along with salvation when we are born again. Of course we have to give greater and greater place to it in our heart and in our actions, but how blessed we are that one of our proofs for a changed life is love!

I John also presents the flip side of that issue. We can’t say we love God but hate our brother. Some of us do harbor great feelings of animosity and unforgiveness to some we will spend eternity with, and some of us, sadly, live and thrive in that hatred. Yet God calls those “honest” enough to say that they hate their Christian brothers and sisters—liars.

But what is the lie? Not that we don’t love others. Some of us nearly contort ourselves patting ourselves on the back for our “honesty” in this matter. But truth be told, those of us who feel that way aren’t honest about the other half of the equation: We really don’t love God as much as we think.

John hits this logically: How can anyone love God whom he has not seen, and yet doesn’t love his brother whom he has? We may say that we love God, but if we are hating our brothers, the God we claim to love isn’t really the true God, but a combination of the real God and one of our own imaginings. Since we don’t see God, it’s easy to keep falling into the trap of making Him after our own image and trying to re-create the Creator. If we live in a state where we are not convicted of our sin of hating our brother or sister, then we have re-created the God of the universe into a god that doesn’t agree that loving God and loving others are inseparable commandments (see yesterday’s devotional).

So if you find yourself in the place of believing you love God but you hate your Christian brother or sister, hear well God’s word: “…he who loves God must love his brother also.” If we are going to be honest about our feelings (which is good and healthy to start), then it’s much more important to be honest about what God says about the issue at hand.

Prayer: Lord, show me by Your Spirit where I harbor any level of hatred toward my Christian brothers and sisters. I may have reasons for having been hurt, but your commandment tells me to love them if I love you. Let me be more honest about You and Your word than about anything pertaining to myself.

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