LÖHE ON 1 JOHN 4:20

luke_16_rich_man_and_lazarus1If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1Jo 4:20 NIV)

This word presses mightily for the continuation of love for God in fervent love towards ones brothers. It exposes all declarations of love towards God that doesn’t show love for ones siblings, next-of-kin, neighbors and fellow-human beings as empty words and even lies. Strong words by this holy apostle, who is demanding love and accuses those of lacking it of being liars. There may yet be plenty of those, who hold against him that they do indeed love God even though they don’t love their brother. God is perfect, but we humans are imperfect. It is far easier loving the one, who is so absolutely worthy of all our love than our kindred beings, who lack so much and are hardly worthy of any love after all. In our interaction amongst ourselves we are always hindered and thrown back again and again by the numerous mistakes and shortfalls of others. Thus a person may argue even if this opinion is utterly false and diametrically opposed to the divine word of God. The apostle teaches us that it’s not so much our fellow-beings wrong doing that make love amongst ourselves so difficult, but rather the invisibility of God that strongly challenges our love towards him. As we don’t see God it is virtually impossible for us to love God. However as he commands love towards himself, he has found means and ways to make this possible. He let his son Jesus Christ become our brother. His glory was revealed on the cross, where he showed his love towards us while we were still sinners and enemies of God. In him let us love God and our brother and sister – for Christ’s sake. It remains the truth: The far easier thing is to love our imperfect brother than to love the invisible and absolute perfect God.

Lord Jesus Christ! You bore our ill and took upon yourself our pain. Let us show our gratitude in our lives while loving our brothers. You have visited us in your gracious mercy as the living God from on high to be revealed as savior to all those suffering. You have entrusted to us as your special bequest and legacy all those in poverty and illness, those tired and heavily burdened, those lost and struggling. Let all of us that know and love you, learn mercy and compassion from you. Let no widow be without comfort in your kingdom and merciful realm, no orphan without care, no poor without help, no sinners without seeking love and caring goodness. Let us work as long as it is day and before night falls, when nobody can work. Amen. (A. Stöcker)

God’s grace, goodness and mercy remain steadfast throughout. Blessed is he, who takes care of the poor as if it was his own concern doing good with loving care. God himself will compensate him from the fullness of his grace and goodness so that he suffers no lack nor loss.

Whoever gladdens those in trouble will be please by God in the highest. Whatever tired hands distribute and share on earth will be given back from on high in richest measure. Whoever gives much, will receive more. Whatever his heart desires and wishes for will be granted from on high as sure as God is God and carries out all to our best in his good time. (Paul Gerhard 1607-1676)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Friday after the first Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 227 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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