Today we are looking at 1 John 4:7-21 with a focus on verse 20. John is talking about God not only being the source of love, but He IS love. He tells us that if we don’t love, we don’t know God because God is love! God proved His love for us in that He sent His only Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. Because God has loved us so much, we are to love others. Our verse today says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20 NLT)
Verse 12 tells us that if we love others, God’s love dwells in us, and is perfected in us. It’s impossible to love those who are unlovely without God’s love being inside of us. Some people are easy to love, and others are difficult to love. Proof of God’s love in us is how we love those who are not loving to us. Some people seem to make it their life’s ambition to be disagreeable, hateful, argumentative, and hard to get along with. It is when we love those people, that we exhibit the love of God and show them how a Believer is to live. You’ve heard the saying, “Kill them with kindness.” Well, there is a bit of truth in that. Romans 12:20 says, “To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (ESV) Jesus told us we are to love our enemies. (Luke 6:27-28) If we don’t love our “brother” whether they are Believers or not, then John says, we don’t love God either.
How we treat others is a testimony of God’s love in us. When we encounter those who are unlovely toward us, we must exhibit the love of God that is deep inside of us. The will to love them is a choice. We love them with our will, it is an action. We need to exhibit agape love toward those who harbor ill against us. When Jesus appeared before the disciples the third time after He had risen from the dead, He asked Peter, “Peter, do you love me?” (John 21-17) Jesus was talking about agape love. Peter said, “Yes Lord, you know I love You.” Peter was talking about phileo or philia love, which is brotherly love, friendship love. Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you agape me?” Finally, Peter understood and on the third time and was grieved because Jesus had asked “Do you love me?” and said, “Yes Lord, you know I agape you.” It was a choice Peter made.
In an article on http://www.Christianity.com, Alyssa Roat describes agape love. “Agape could be defined as charity. However, we often think of charity nowadays as giving away money or things, which doesn’t encompass all of what agape is about. Agape love is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. This is the type of love the Bible speaks about the most. The New Testament references agape over 200 times.
When we love those who may be considered our enemies, we show that we also love God. Be cautious but love them. One way of loving them is to pray for them. Pray that they find Jesus and let Him change their lives. Love them by being kind. Love them by showing them the light of Jesus in you. Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,” (WEB)
Today as you encounter those who are difficult to deal with, remember to let God love them through you. Show them that you love God by how you treat them. Let them feel the love God has for them and see Jesus’ light shining through you. You never know, you just might turn an enemy into a friend, and help them to become a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.