"Loving God. Loving People"
The writer of Hebrews calls his readers to "let brotherly love continue" because it is possible that it may not (Hebrews 13:1).
"Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Corinthians 3:3).
Both the Gospels and the epistles of the New Testament chronicle difficulties among believers regarding the love of Christ translating into our love for each other. As a friend often wryly comments, "I understand completely that we are to love God. He's perfect. But loving imperfect people is a different matter altogether!" It does feel that way at times, but the truth of the matter is that loving imperfect people constitutes a primary aspect of loving our perfect God.
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (I John 4:20).
"Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, and fed Thee? Or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? Or naked, and clothed Thee? Or when saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:37-40).
Loving people involves obedience to the Lord's command that we "Love one another". Obedience to the Lord's commands involves love for Him - "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 15:17; 14:15). Thus, must view people - imperfect as people are - as the tangible, hands on means of experiencing and expressing true devotion to God. Our love for Him exists as the reflected beam of His light of love directed toward us. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). The people in our lives who walk into the path of the reflected beam thus experience our love for God that becomes our love for them. Again, we love Him by loving them. Moreover, devotion to God means that we will love those whom He loves. "The Lord is good to all… Let us do good unto all men" (Psalm 145:9; Galatians 6:10).
Realizing and affirming the direct correlation between love for God and love for people greatly aids our self sacrificial dedication to our brothers and sisters in Christ, thereby making the continuance of "brotherly love" far more likely. We love Him by loving them. And we love them because our Lord loves them. The indwelling Holy Spirit illuminates such Truth by His Word and then empowers the fruits thereof as we devote ourselves to our Heavenly Father through Christ. We love a perfect God by loving imperfect people, just as He does.
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
Weekly Memory Verse
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.