The Apostle John said: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
There is a direct correlation between loving God and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is absurd to say that we love God, while holding hatred in our heart toward our brother or sister.
Jesus captures this absurdity in a parable. He tells of a king who called his servants before him in order to settle accounts. There was a servant who owed the king the equivalent of ten thousand times twenty years of a day labor’s wages – an absorbent amount of money. Since he was not able to pay, the king ordered that the servant’s wife and children and everything he owned be sold to pay the debt. The servant fell on his knees. He begged; he pleaded; he promised to pay back every last penny.
Then the king did something very unusual. He forgives the servant. Just like that, he cancels his gigantic debt.
This servant, who had been forgiven so much, leaves the king’s presence. But, when he sees a fellow servant who owes him less than half a year of a labor’s wage – a significantly smaller amount of money – he grabs him by the throat and begins to choke him. “Give me what you owe me!” he demands. His fellow servant falls on his knees. He begs; he pleads; he promises to pay back every last penny. Yet, this servant, who had been forgiven so much, throws his fellow servant into prison for a far lesser debt.
When those who have received God’s love refuse to love others, they seem just as duplicitous as this ingrate servant. He had been forgiven much, yet refused to forgive in return.
“We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).” “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister (1 John 4:21).” Do those around you notice your love for God by your God-like love for them?