We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.1 John 3:14
It is rather fascinating that the apostle who wrote this has become known as the apostle of love. But if you read the gospel records of John, you will note that this is not his nature at all. He and his brother James earned from Jesus the title
Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17) because they were constantly wanting to blast back at those who opposed them. John's temperament was not naturally inclined to show love. But when he was born again, there was born into his heart the life of God, and this man began to show love.
Jacob De Shazer bombed Tokyo early in World War II. He was captured by the Japanese and put in prison. He hated his Japanese captors and was so violent and vicious that they feared him. They kept him in solitary confinement because of the hatred with which he lashed out against them. But he obtained a copy of the Bible and began to read it through. In the loneliness of his cell, he came to realize the life that is in Jesus Christ. An amazing change came over this man. His hatred of the Japanese changed completely. He began to love his captors and to show love toward them, and they were utterly astonished by what had happened to him. Instead of burning with wrath, resentment, and viciousness against them, he became the most docile of prisoners, eagerly cooperating with his captors and praying for them.
Eventually, the story of his change of heart was written up in a little tract, and, after the war, it fell into the hands of a young Japanese captain, Mitsuo Fuchida, the man who led the air raid against Pearl Harbor and gave the command to drop the bombs on that fateful day of December 7. Mitsuo Fuchida was a hero in Japan after the war because of that exploit and others, but his own heart was empty. Somehow he read the tract that told the story of De Shazer's amazing change of heart. He was arrested and puzzled by the story. From somewhere he obtained a New Testament and began to read it with growing interest. At last he came to the story of the crucifixion. When he read the Lord's words from the cross,
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34), his heart broke. He realized that this one who could love His enemies and pray for those who persecuted Him was manifesting a quality of life that no natural human being could possibly show. Mitsuo Fuchida became a Christian and an evangelist, telling the story of a love that can change human hearts.
Such love is the sign of the new life. It is a love that you not only extend toward those who love you, but toward those who do not love you. It is a love that does not depend upon a reciprocal relationship but loves the unlovely, the unqualified, the ungrateful, the selfish, and the difficult. This, then, is the character of true love, and it is always evidence that a new life has come, the life born of God.
Lord, I realize that I am not to love others because they love me but because I have been loved by God, and I have in me a life that loves despite any reason to love. Teach me to let that life show through me.
Is one of our prerequisites for loving others that they love us first? Apart from having a new Life within we cannot at all evidence the love God commanded us to show.