Loving God by Loving God's People

by Daniel Rieke

All genuine Christians will love other Christians. Period. God’s Word is clear on this: Christians are called to show their love for God, in part, by the way they love other Christians. We see this concept repeatedly in the book of 1 John. I want us to briefly examine two particularly noteworthy passages on the subject:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 [1]

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

We are called to love other Christians well as a fundamental part of showing our love for God. This concept is riddled throughout 1 John. In fact, John restates this idea in every chapter of this book. He’s basically saying that we need to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” when it comes to loving God by loving one another.

Consequently, this is one of the primary reasons we are pursuing meaningful membership here at Hope Church through covenant – because we want to give God glory in how we treat each other. We want to be a display of God's love to the watching world because the way God’s Word calls us to care for one another, serve one another, and provide for one another is countercultural. We live in a "me-first" society, so when there is a group of believers who live selflessly and sacrificially with one another, it is a compelling witness to the power of the gospel and the love of God.

So I’d like to give a few exhortations for anyone who wants to grow in this area of loving God by loving His people:

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you this love for others believers. We can't conjure it up in our flesh...we need His power in to do it (see 1 John 4:16-21)
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any darkness you're walking in or unrepentant sin that would prevent this godly fellowship from taking place (see 1 John 1:6-7)
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any hatred, bitterness, or unforgiveness in your heart that's keeping you from loving your fellow church members (see 1 John 2:9-11)
  4. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any selfishness or self-focus that is blinding you to the needs of others (see 1 John 3:17-18)
  5. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if you're allowing love of the world or pride in possessions to keep you from generously loving your fellow Christians with your money, with your material possessions, with your time, with your emotional energy, with your wisdom, with your prayers, or with your encouragement (see 1 John 2:15-17, 3:17-18)

May we be a people at Hope Church who love God by loving His people! [2]

 

 

[1] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] This blog post has been adapted from Daniel Rieke’s sermon on 1 John 1-5 preached at Hope Church on Sunday, June 30, 2013.