Everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
~1 John 5:1-2
At first glance, this is a puzzling verse. It seems to be a circular argument. John says that everyone who loves God loves His children– that is, believers. But then the very next sentence he turns it around on its head; this is how we know that we love God’s children: we love God. So those who love God love His children, and those who love His children are the ones who love God. So which is it? Confused yet?
The point of what John is saying is this: don’t take verse one, “whoever loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him,” and turn it into something that is sentimental and removed from God. That’s not love. There is no love for others apart from loving God. Any love that loves someone apart from or above the love of God is not true love, but idolatry. And idolatry never truly serves or cares for the object of its affection. Real love for people is that which overflows from love for God, and then continues to point back to Him as the highest and greatest Good. By this we know that we love the children of God: that we love God more. Only those who love God more can truly love anything else.
So how do we love others better? By turning our energies from loving them to loving God. Ponder the greatness of His love for you; dwell in the shadow of the cross and drink deeply of His mercy. Respond to His love with obedience to His commands. Cultivate delight for His ways and joy in His presence. Do this and you will be surprised to see your own heart become a fountain of living water, with your love for God overflowing in love towards others.
Father, Thank you for Your love with which You first loved me, before I ever loved You or anyone else. When I was a hater of God, hating and being hated, You looked on me with kindness and extended extravagant mercy to me. I want to forever love You more than anything else in my life. You are infinitely worthy of all my affection, all my love, all my devotion. From that spring, Lord, overflow to those around me, so that by loving You I can truly love them.
“Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow. Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God.” ~Pope Benedict XVI
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections