How’s this for a terrifying thought? The measure of your love for God is equal to your love for the people with whom we interact daily. There are some people, my wife for example, whom I love very much and would be comfortable with God measuring my love for Him by how much I love her.
Then there are my friends; while I have a certain degree of love for them, I definitely want to believe I love God more. But then there are my coworkers and the people I encounter in the store or in traffic. Now the comparison of how much I love God begins to get more than a little uncomfortable.
It may not be convenient, but there is no denying what John wrote in 1 John 4:20-21. Our love for Jesus will be measured by how much we love His children. If we do not love our brothers and sisters, then we cannot love God. Our love for God is demonstrated by the way we love others. This means those you like and those you don’t. It includes the lovable and unlovable, the healthy and the sick, the clean and the dirty. God shows no favoritism towards any individual (Acts 10:34-35) and demands the same of us.
The message is clear. We must learn to love others better than we do today. In an age relentlessly promoting individualism, it is our duty to live a different way. It is our mission to take the love of Jesus into the world and demonstrate how to put others before ourselves. This isn’t easy and it doesn’t feel natural to our fallen selves. We want to seek our own pleasure and success, sometimes at the expense of others. But that’s not how Jesus lived and it certainly is not how He loved.
Love is contagious and if we will dare to live differently, it will begin to spread to those around us. While it’s easier to love someone who loves you back, we must learn to love with no condition, no time-limit, and no reserve. There will be those who refuse and we will be left to demonstrate our love mostly through prayers for them, but in my experience those will be the exception. More often, we will make excuses or rationalize why we cannot or will not love someone. It’s easy to rationalize when we are being inconvenienced.
Knowing your love for God will be equal to your love for others, how must your life change? What attitudes need to be re-evaluated or even cast aside? More importantly, who will be the first object of your new mission to love? For me, time is the biggest obstacle to love others. I am often too structured and too scheduled which limits my flexibility to take time for someone else. You will have your own issues, but we all must deal with them. It’s easy to say we love God, but in light of 1 John 4:20-21, it is far more difficult to prove. What is the measure of your love? How will you improve it today?