A Christian who professes to love God must manifest this love through his daily conduct and relationships with others. To test our love, we asked five questions in our past two articles:
1. Do we love the presence of God?
2. Do we love God’s Word?
3. Are we concerned about grieving God?
4. Do we obey God’s Word?
5. Do we seek God with single-minded devotion?
As we conclude our study on this important topic, let us check our lives for further evidence of our love for God.
6. Do we love the people of God?
Love for the brethren is another proof that we love God. A genuine love for our fellow saints springs from our love for God. We love them because they, too, are the objects of God’s grace, mercy and love: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” (I Jn. 5: 1-2).
An unloving heart towards our brethren is an indication that we do not love God. In his epistle, the apostle John tells us that we cannot say we love God if we hate our brethren: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (I Jn. 4: 20-21).
Most of us will agree that it is not easy to love our brethren. We find it a struggle to accept their faults and idiosyncrasies. But our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that love is a clear sign of discipleship: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13: 34-35). The world will recognise that we are Christ’s disciples by this distinguishing mark – our love for one another in the church.
One question that is often asked is: “How do you know you are born again?” One proof of the new birth is brotherly love: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (I Jn. 3: 14a). Sadly, there are those who claim to love God but have no love for fellow believers. God’s Word warns these false professors that hatred of the brethren is a sign that they might not even be saved: “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (I Jn. 3: 14b). May we take heed to this solemn warning and check our lives for an unloving heart.
7. Do we love the communion of saints?
Fellowship is one of the means of grace that we enjoy as God’s children. A good Biblical model of Christian oneness and fellowship is found in the early Jerusalem church. We are told that the believers “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2: 42).
“They not only had a mutual affection to each other, but a great deal of mutual conversation with each other; they were much together. When they withdrew from the untoward generation, they did not turn hermits, but were very intimate with one another, and took all occasions to meet … They were concerned for one another, sympathized with one another, and heartily espoused one another’s interests. They had fellowship with one another in religious worship. … Worshipping God is to be our daily work, and, where there is opportunity, the oftener it is done publicly the better. God loves the gates of Zion, and so must we. They were with one accord; not only no discord nor strife, but a great deal of holy love among them; and they heartily joined in their public services” (Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary).
If we love God, we will love to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will delight in their company: “I am a companion of all them that fear thee” (Ps. 119: 63). We will desire to be present at the meetings planned by the church for our spiritual well-being. It is at these gatherings that we will learn God’s Word, pray for, and commune with one another. Our presence will also be an encouragement to our fellow saints.
Brethren, if we say we love God, we will love the communion of saints. We will view every opportunity for fellowship as a privilege and blessing. Fellowship will profit our souls and draw us closer to God and to one another. Let us not neglect this means of grace, but make it a priority to be with God’s people in fellowship – “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10: 25). Amen.