“If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
What does hating our sisters and brothers look like? Resenting, holding grudges, petty jealousies, gossiping, backbiting, put downs, manipulating, taking advantage of, domineering, and all manner of ill will. The loving Apostle is very clear about our spiritual standing in this verse. We cannot stand before God and say we love Him and be indulging our fleshly hearts and minds in such hateful activities. It does not have to be out and out hatred, but just ignoring the needs of the other and putting ourselves first.
Self-centredness is a key feature behind our sinful mindset and putting God into second or third place in our life will result in lack of love for others. If we are entertaining ideas against others, then we cannot say God is first in our life and our greatest love. If we cannot love those who are central in our earthly life, how can we say we love a God we have never even seen!
“He plots iniquity on his bed. He sets himself in a way that is not good. He doesn’t abhor evil.”
The Apostle John is superbly clear about our mindset. If we do not love others we do not love God and to think that we do, is just lying to ourselves and others. We have not faced our sinfulness and have not dealt with our lack of love and are not being honest. It’s the same principle from chapter one regarding people who say they know God, but can’t be bothered with obeying the commandments. John says they are lying to themselves.
“If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth.”
1 John 1:6
So the Apostle John lovingly identifies two instances where we can lie to ourselves: knowing God and loving God. The two instances are related, for if we would know God we must love Him and to love we must know God. If I do not follow the way of God, I neither know Him nor love Him.
Beloved, let us not lie to ourselves but ensure we are truly the Lords by loving Him first and foremost. All other love is secondary to His love and with His love all other loves become brighter and reach their full fruition.