Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (1 John 4:11)

God has demonstrated His love for us; therefore, you and I ought to love on that plane. John says, “Beloved, if God so loved us…” This carries our minds back to verse 10: “Herein is love…that he loved us, and sent his Son.” He loved us enough to give His Son as a propitiation for our sins.

If we love those who love us, or if there is a selfish motive in our loving them, there is no value in that. The Lord Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:46).

“We ought also to love one another.” I like that — when John says ought, he means it. He is not talking about the cheap sentiment which a great many people entertain today. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If you really love Him, keep His commandments. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

How about it, my friend? Do you mean to tell me that you can hate Christians down here and still love God? I want to say to you very frankly that if you cannot demonstrate in your life that you have love for other believers, there is a serious question whether you are a child of God or not. There is a lot of nonsense going on today. We are not talking about backslapping, calling somebody “brother,” or behaving so nicely in the church. But do you have a concern for believers? Do you have a concern to get out His Word? Do you have a concern to serve Him?

The Lord Jesus could say even on the Cross, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). The first martyr of the church, Stephen, said the same thing. Can you forgive like that today? Are you able to forgive those who have hurt you and harmed you and yet profess to be children of God? And if they cannot return your love, there is some question whether they are children of God or not. This is the real test, the acid test, and it hurts — does it not? We do not hear this type of teaching in these little seminars which talk about how to live the Christian life and how to get along with your spouse. John gives us the bedrock of it all: Do you love God? And do you love other believers?

—From Edited Messages on 1 John by J. Vernon McGee