There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. 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 sent, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Growing up, my family had some real doozies (this is an old-timey term that means “not that good”) for vehicles. I couldn’t necessarily call them clunkers, because they were in impeccable shape on the inside. The age, and the style of vehicle left a bit to be desired, but the inside was like a sterile surgical room. The reason for the strange disconnect between the hokey looking outside and the immaculate inside, was the reasoning that my dad used. According to him, it was good practice to take care of your junky car. You see, the day would come when you would be able to get a “nice car,” and if you had practiced taking care of the junky one, then it would be natural for you to care for the nice one. Conversely, if you had treated the car like a trash heap, then when you got the newer one you would probably struggle to break the bad habit of trashing your car. It seemed like a pretty good rule of thumb, so we always took time to clean out the car and vacuum it, and get it back to its shining 1980’s beauty, knowing that somehow we were just practicing for the day we owned a Lamborghini. I mean who throws their McDonald’s trash on the floor of their Lambo? In essence, my dad was teaching us (my brothers and I) that your habits now will most likely indicate your disposition later.
This is a similar argument as the one John uses in 1 John 4:20. He says that no one can say “I love God,” yet currently live in hatred for his own brother. Christians who realize that Jesus loved them and died for them, and that Jesus loved their brother and died for him too, cannot in good conscience hate the brother that Jesus died for. Furthermore, for them to say that they love the God Who saved him, but not the other people He was willing to die for is inconsistent. Their habits reveal their heart. He finishes with the logic, “if you can’t love the ones God has sent into your life to be with you whom you see every day, how do you think that you truly love a God Whom you don’t see everyday?” He then gives a command. Love your brother. Basically, love those around you (especially your Christian brothers and sisters) with a habitual, self-sacrificing serving love. Then you can have confidence that you will truly be loving God too.
Food For Thought: What does it mean that “love your brother” is a command?