As disciples of Jesus, we’re commanded to love others, just as Jesus loves us. Obeying God is so simple. You just have to love. Obeying God is so difficult. You always have to love. But John gives us an important key to loving others. Clearly, the love John is talking about in his letter, is more than an emotion. It’s a decision. No matter how angry, fearful, or hurt you are feeling, you can always choose to act in a way that seeks to promote the good of the person in front of you. You can always choose to value their welfare above what might be easier or more pleasing for you.
1 John 4:19–5:4
Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:21)
Loving someone means going out of your way to greet a stranger and being willing to learn from someone whose experiences are very different from your own. It means readily forgiving someone instead of trying to make them feel guilty. It means celebrating someone’s achievement and applauding their effort, even if it takes the spotlight off of you and your accomplishments.
Of course, that’s a very tall order. We know how hard it can be to discern the most loving thing to do in the messy circumstances of daily life. We’ve all experienced love that misses the mark and winds up harming ourselves or someone else. None of us loves perfectly.
But don’t lose heart! John gives us an essential key to loving: “We love God because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). All love originates from God himself. Remember times when your heart was lifted by going to church or seeing a beautiful sunrise. Or when a dear friend called out of the blue and boosted your spirits. These are all signs of God’s love reaching out to you. As you make his love the foundation of your life, your ability to extend that love to the people around you, grows – especially when you recall that God loves each of them in the very same way that he loves you.
God himself is the source of all love. And you have that source to draw from – dwelling within you – the Holy Spirit. So be encouraged: Loving is up to you. But it’s not all up to you!
“Jesus, thank you for loving me. Help me to answer your call to share your love with the people around me.”
(Inspired by: ‘Word Among Us’ – India edition)