“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” - Unknown
(Scripture Text: 1 Jn 4:19–5:4)
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
What does it mean to love your brother?
For me I take ‘brother’ in this context to be metaphorically inclusive of humanity. In order to love God, we must love people. When we truly love others, we find ourselves acting out of compassion on their behalf. We find ourselves speaking for those without a voice, standing up for those who have been downtrodden by society; we find ourselves making the Kingdom of God tangible and real.
Easier said then done. How do we do this?
If you’ve ever followed an instruction manual, you know how it works. After you complete step one, you proceed to step two, and then three, and eventually—if you’re a little savvy—you move to the final step of complete assembly. Now what would happen if, as you are attempting to put something together, you realize that the order of the steps in your manual is all jumbled up? You can imagine the mess you would have on your hands!
St. John here gives us an instruction manual, of sorts, to help us understand something about love. We love because he first loved us… . Whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:19, 21). Let’s say that the last step here—the finished product—is loving others. What do you think would be the first step, according to John’s manual?
If you said, “God loves us,” you got it right!
Here’s the key to the whole manual: as we follow Jesus’ command to love one another, we need to make sure we are in touch with God’s love for us.
If you aren’t receiving it yourself, you will surely have a difficult time giving it away!