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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.1 John 4:20-21 ESV
We all struggle to love people, but we should forever be working toward this goal. We are told quite clearly in these verses that the measure of our love for God can be seen by our love for others. In other words, how well you love your spouse is the manifestation for how well you love God. If you do not love your spouse well, you cannot love God well.
The people in our lives should find us to be the most loving people that they know. That means the people we consider friends and the people in our circle, that means the people that work in the same building or interact with us regularly, that means people who live on the same street as us, the people who share the road or the checkout line with us, the people that knock on our doors or fix our cars—anyone we interact with should consider us the most loving person that they know, but this verse most especially means your spouse. They know most intimately how you interact with people in your life, how you speak to others that you find annoying or frustrating, and they should still consider you to be the most loving person they know. They listen to you complain about co-workers at the dinner table, they hear you criticize friends on social media, they watch you interact with salesmen at the door, they know how you feel about your neighbors, and they should still consider you to be the most loving person they know. The way you love others is the outward manifestation of the way you love God. Your spouse sees you at your best and at your worst. They see you when you’re irritated and tired, they see you when you’re frustrated and when you’re hungry, they see you when you’re feeling helpless and discouraged, they see you when you’re anxious and afraid – and in all those moments, they still should consider you to be the most loving person they know.
Where do we fall short? That’s where you need to go to work on your heart. God allows difficult people into our lives to show us where we need to work on our hearts. They expose the sharp edges that need to be chastened by God, and its uncomfortable at times. We would all rather be around pleasant people all the time, but we have to interact regularly with people who irritate or annoy us, who frustrate and confound us. If we’re paying attention, and we’re remaining humble and teachable, those interactions should bubble up to the surface our own self-centeredness. These people irritate us because we’re not getting what we want and our own sense of comfort is being negatively impacted. Consider how God wants us to love others well, consider how we can become the most loving person that all the people in our lives know, most especially our spouse.
This commandment to love others exposes exactly how broken we are, and how desperately we need His grace.
If we are to say we love God, then we need to demonstrate a selfless love of others. Pay attention to your interactions with the difficult people in your life and look for areas you are putting your own needs first. Surrender those needs, and you will find yourself growing in your ability to love well.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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