Wednesday, 27 May 2020
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:21
John has just expressed the idea that when someone says, “I love God,” and yet he hates his brother, there is no truth in that person; he is a liar. In coming to Christ, we are brought into the state where our love is perfected. We can see what true love is because we have seen what Christ was willing to do in order to save us. He loved us when we did not love Him. In expressing the love of God in this way, He then relayed that those who follow Him must act accordingly. And so, John says, “And this commandment we have from Him.”
A commandment has been given. As this is so, it is our obligation to do what He has commanded. Christ is the Lord, He is the Head of the church, and He is the executor of the New Covenant in His blood. It is this act which reveals the length God was willing to go through to express His love to us. Therefore, John next restates the command he has heard. It is “that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
As already seen, the command was given in John 13. But the surrounding verses will help clarify the full intent of what Jesus commands –
“Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:31-35
Jesus not only gave the commandment, but He did so in relation to His going away. In His absence, it is the responsibility of the believer to act as He did. The reason for this becomes obvious. In expressing His love, those who saw it could then understand His nature. Those who follow Him, in expressing that same state, will then continue to reveal His nature. In loving one’s brother, we are indirectly reflecting Him and loving Him at the same time.
This is why at Paul’s vision of Christ, Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Paul was persecuting Christ’s followers. Thus, he was indirectly persecuting Christ. Logically, in demonstrating love to the brethren, we are then loving in Christ’s stead, and we are loving Christ as well. To not do so shows a defect in our love. But John has already been shown that “love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
Therefore, the commandment is set forth to remind us of our state, and to continue to live in that state at all times. The definition of love, given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, shows us how to be loving, and how to know if we are complying with the commandment which has been given.
Life application: The Old Covenant relayed a similar truth to what the commandment of the New Covenant relays –
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:25-27
Jesus says in Matthew 22:40 that on these hang all the Law and the Prophets. If all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two things, and if in Christ, then we have inherited eternal life, then our love has been perfected because of our being in Christ. Therefore, we can claim we love God, and we understand that love is more than emotion. It is a state which says, “Without Christ, this person stands condemned. It is my obligation to love him, even as Christ loves him, so that he can enter into God’s love as well.”
For those in Christ, it says, “This person is in Christ. He is a member of Christ, and therefore it is my obligation to love him, just as I love Christ.”
Therefore, we are to act upon the love that has been perfected in us, demonstrating that it is a part of who we are.
Heavenly Father, You loved us before we loved You. There was a divide between us that could not be crossed by us, and so You sent Christ to make the bridge possible once again. Help us to act in a like manner toward those who have yet to find out the truth of what You have done, loving them in the same manner in which You first loved us. It is a hard path for us in these fallen lives of ours, but through Christ we can do it. May it be so, and may it be to Your glory. Amen.