God's image in us
We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. 1 John 4:19-21 NLT
We cannot brag about our love for God and say that we love God first. John keeps on emphasizing that it is God who first loved us. God’s love for us comes first and we imitate that love by loving others (see 1 John 4:7, 11-12). Love for God cannot just remain a warm feeling in our hearts that we keep on saying how much we love God yet fails to reach out in love to our fellow man. Our vertical expression of love for God should be shown in our horizontal attitude towards others. God created man in his own image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 11:7; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Since we are made in His image, He requires us to love others who are also made in God’s image. James in a related theme admonishes those who use their tongue that “praises our Lord and Father” but at the same time “curses those who have been made in the image of God” (James 3:9). Our conduct, if we claim that we are loved by God, should manifest that love to others. We cannot claim that we love God and yet disobey His command. “If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth” (1 John 2:4). John says that God “has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers” (1 John 4:21). In the last week of Jesus’ ministry before the sacrifice at the cross, He reminded once again His disciples about loving God and loving one another. “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). When we are confident and secured because of the love of God for us, we should stop pretending of how spiritual we are. If you are right with God, you will also be right with others. We should know that God has a purpose for our lives and part of that purpose is to be truthful about our relationship with Him and with others.