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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Belonging To God (Loving One Another Part 7)

Today’s reading: 1 John 3:7-10

In this passage, John is talking about righteousness versus sin, about how one begotten by God does not sin, about being children of God versus children of the devil. He concludes: “no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God” (1 Jn 3:10b). But then he continues: “nor anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 Jn 3:10c).

Whoa! Where did that come from?

It was clear enough that if we fail to act in righteousness, then we do not belong to God, who is righteous. But then John adds that if we do not love our brother, then we also do not belong to God. John is connecting belonging to God with loving our brother. In other words, we not only look to a vertical relationship with God, but we must also look to a horizontal relationship with other Christians.

Jesus does sum up the whole prophets and the law with the two commandments of love--love of God and love of neighbor. The two go together. Now if we are to love our neighbor, more so are we to love our brother. Paul tells us to “do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.” (Gal 6:10).

In fact, John says that if we say we love God but we hate our brother, then we lie (1 Jn 4:20a). Then he sums it up: “This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 Jn 4:21). The startling conclusion: “for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20b).

If we do not love our brother, we not only do not belong to God, but we also cannot claim to love God. We cannot claim a proper relationship with the Father (one of love), and God cannot accept us as belonging to Him as His children.

God is love, and God’s family is all about relationships of love. Not just our love for God, but also our love for our brethren. In fact, that is the real test. It is easy enough to love God, because He is so lovable. But the challenge is to love our brethren, who are less than lovable. If we do something that is easy, what merit is there in that? But if we do something that is very difficult, simply because it is the right thing to do, then we merit God’s favor and approval.

Not to love our brethren, having been commanded by God as the second greatest commandment, is a serious failure in righteousness. Now we can then see clearly: “no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother.”

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