I John 3:14 – We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.
I John 4:8 – He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Oh, how many times we can most of us remember when we would gladly have made any compromise with our consciences, would gladly have made the most costly sacrifices to God, if He would only have excused us from this duty of loving, of which our nature seemed utterly incapable. It is far easier to feel kindly, to act kindly, toward those with whom we are seldom brought into contact, whose tempers and prejudices do not rub against ours, whose interests do not clash with ours, than to keep up an habitual, steady, self-sacrificing love towards those whose weaknesses and faults are always forcing themselves upon us, and are stirring up our own. A man may pass good muster as a philanthropist who makes but a poor master to his servants, or father to his children.
F. D. MAURICE.
I think that F. D. Maurice hit the nail right on the head. Loving your close relations can be a trial or testing of your faith. We need to love the brethren, especially the brethren we live with day in and day out. It does not say in John that people would know that you are saved when you start tithing, going to church, reading your Bible, or witnessing to others, but rather because you love the brethren. It is easy to love someone you don’t see all that often. It is easier to give something to soothe your conscience to a brother who is far off; but to love husband or wife, child or dear friend day and day out; that is the true test of Christian love.
The issue is the more we are around others, the more we see their faults and tempers. They rub us the wrong way. They don’t always like what we like or think the way we think. Their interests can clash with ours. We want to do one thing and they want to do something else. When we are able to have a love that sacrifices our interest and our desires for someone else’s, I think that is the kind of love Christ has shed abroad in the heart of the true child of God. True Bible love has to give. It also has to give to those who do not deserve it. We want our way. We want a perfect life. The problem is that may not be what God wants for you.
True Bible love will love those closest to you throughout the day and allow you to have grace with them. Your temper will be even and you will sacrifice and give for them without expecting something in return. You will be a brother born for adversity and love with a self-sacrificing love. That is a pretty high order for someone living the flesh. It is not going to happen.
There may be somethings in the Christian life you can skate by with leaning on the arm of the flesh, but this is not one of them. This only comes by the Holy Ghost growing your over time and conforming you little by little to Christ’s image. Are you patient with your children and spouse? Are you patient with your flesh and blood brothers and sisters? That is true love. Loving your close relations can be a trial of your faith, but it is the way to hearing a well done of a good and faithful servant.