In this world where words are cheap, we are often challenged to prove what we claim to know. Therefore, when we claim that we know God, how can we prove it? Since mere words are not enough, the apostle John gave us a good gauge when he said, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). It is the degree of love that we have for one another that determines whether we know God or not. Since we embody the nature of God, it is impossible not to love one another, because the nature of God is love. In fact, the hallmark of Christianity is love. Jesus himself emphasized that even the commandments and laws are anchored on love. When asked which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40).
Love does not only prove that we know God, but also determines if we are born again. The apostle John said, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:9-10). Therefore, anyone who is living in anger and wrath is not born again. From the moment he receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and becomes a new creation, he should stop hating and start loving. No amount of reasoning and justification are enough to prove that we love God, but only our love for one another. The apostle John gave this rebuke to those who persist in hating their brothers and yet claim to be believers. He said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
While it is true that we are surrounded by all kinds of people with every perceivable attitude, we can keep good relationships with them if we have love for one another. In his epistle, the apostle Peter said, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). It is love that will always make the difference. We can overcome all kinds of tests if we will keep love as the centerpiece of our relationship. For example, when testing comes between husbands and wives, it is always good to go back to our first love. Back then, everything was wonderful. We extended our patience to the maximum and persevered in keeping our relationship intact. We did not care if we were ignored or snubbed. All we cared about then was that we were in love. If we are able to keep this kind of love with everyone, then “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).
Though love covers over a multitude of sins, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Heb. 12:6). Therefore, we should take all kinds of discipline positively—it is for our own good. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4::11). There is no better way for us to manifest our love for the Lord but to love one another. Unless we love each other deeply, from our hearts, any confession of love will be empty. In fact, we become liars and the truth is not in us. Therefore, let us go back to our first love and re-start our relationships. As Jesus said, let us love the Lord first and then love our neighbours next. The closest ‘neighbours’ we have are our spouses for the married, parents, children, siblings and those we are in contact with. Let us prove that we are indeed born again and that we know God by the love we have for others. Let us not deceive ourselves. We can never love God without us loving our brothers. “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). Hallelujah!