19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (I John 4:19-21)
The Apostle John reminds us of one of the fundamental truths from God’s Word. That truth is that believers in Christ love one another, and even those who do not belong to Christ, because God first loved them (I John 4:7-11).
The apostle’s conclusion should cause believers to pause and give consideration. John says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar.” What is this individual in question lying about? The obvious answer is their claim that they love God. A person cannot truly love God in a present and active self-sacrificial way if at the same time they are continually hating and detesting their fellow Christian.
John’s conclusion is that this individual is a liar. They are someone who utters and speaks falsehoods. The falsehood in question is their claim that they love God.
The apostle’s reasoning is given in the latter portion of I John 4:20 which says, “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
As one commentator writes, “Anyone who claims to love God, yet hates his brother makes a false claim: he is a liar. John often pointed up false claims by using the word “liar”: 1:10; 2:4, 22; 4:20; 5:10 (cf. “lie” in 1:6). Love for the unseen God (cf. 4:12) can only be concretely expressed by love for one’s visible Christian brother. Furthermore, God’s command (v. 21; cf. 2:3; 3:23–24; 5:3) has joined together the two kinds of love—love for God and love for one’s brother.”
John’s conclusion is clear: “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” This command to love is from God. It is not human in origin. Therefore, it must be obeyed. A true believer in Christ will do so.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “This verse summarizes Ch. 4. One cannot love God without first loving one’s fellow believer. A claim to love God is a delusion if not accompanied by unselfish love for other Christians.”
While no one of us can love God, or our fellow man, perfectly, we are to strive to obey God’s command to self-sacrificially love. Make this a priority today as you encounter the people in your life.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!