Reasons to Love Our Brethren

1 John 4:7

One of the themes emphasized in John’s first epistle is love. In particular, the inspired apostle stressed the importance of loving our brethren in Christ: “Beloved, let us love one another” (1 John 4:7). In this short letter, John provided at least nine reasons why we should love one another. Let us briefly notice each of these.

Why should we love our brethren?

  1. So that we can abide in the light – “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:10-11). To abide in the Light means we have fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7). If we do not love our brethren, we cannot have fellowship with God.
  2. It was the message from the beginning – “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:11-12). When John mentioned brotherly love as the message which was from the beginning, he did not just mean that it was from the apostles, the “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 John 4:6). He cited the example of Cain, reminding us of the fact that God has always expected His people to show love for one another.
  3. To know we have passed from death to life – “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). In Christ, we have the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7) and, therefore, eternal life (Romans 6:23). Since we have been rescued from death to life through Jesus’ willingness to lay “down His life for us,” we should show the same love for our brethren (1 John 3:16).
  4. Jesus commanded it – “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us” (1 John 3:23). Jesus has been given “all authority” (Matthew 28:18). If we hope to be saved, we must “obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). He commanded us to love our brethren and we must obey that command.
  5. Love is from God – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). As children of God (1 John 3:1), we are to emulate the characteristics of our Father. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), so we must act with love for others.
  6. God loves us – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). God loved us enough that He was willing to send His Son to die for us (1 John 4:10). Notice what Paul said about this: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loved us even when we would have seemed to be unlovable. We should show the same sort of love for our brethren.
  7. God abides in us – “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Though we cannot see God, we can, as “the temple of the living God,” have a close relationship with Him in which He dwells in us and walks with us (2 Corinthians 6:16). Because of this relationship, we are to adopt the qualities of God – including love.
  8. To prove we love God – “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). Many will claim to love God, just as many claim to have faith. But James pointed out that such claims of faith are worthless if they are not verified by works (James 2:14-18). In the same way, claiming to love God is meaningless if we do not verify the claim by showing – through our works (1 John 3:18) – that we love our brethren.
  9. They are children of God – “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (1 John 5:1). The fact that one is a child of God indicates the “great…love the Father has” for him (1 John 3:1), as well as the great love we should have for him as well.

As we consider the various reasons given as to why we should love our brethren, we should notice one reason that is conspicuously absent from the list – because they have done something for us. Love is not to be based upon what others have done for us or what we hope that others will do for us. Such conditional love is a characteristic of the world. As Christians, we are to love unconditionally as God does.

Of course, we should always keep in mind that loving unconditionally does not mean that we tolerate sin (2 Thessalonians 3:6; Ephesians 5:11) or accept error (Romans 16:17; 2 John 10-11). Yet even in the cases of sin and error, we must love as Jesus loves: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

Everything we do must be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). As children of God, we must love our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we ever feel as though it is difficult at times to do this, let us remember the multitude of reasons given in John’s first epistle so that we might never be lacking in love for our brethren.

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