WHO COMES FIRST -- GOD OR PEOPLE? Many of us would not have any problem loving God but struggle with certain individuals who do not quite meet with our acceptance. Then, again, some of us may feel a certain disenchantment or disappointment with God. Worse still, a root of bitterness may spring up towards people or God and cause trouble (Heb. 12:15), if we do not guard ourselves.
Jesus teaches us in Matthew 22:37-39 to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbours as ourselves. It is so imperative that Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40, NKJV). When He has washed the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, Jesus also teaches, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34; NKJV).
God’s aforesaid commandments (not suggestions) precede our own choices. So, before we “Just do it”, we map what we intend to do against God’s blueprint to see if there is a good fit. It’s no longer about doing things “My Way” because God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours even as the heavens are higher than the earth.
John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, puts it forth thus as apples of gold in setting of silver: “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20, 21; NKJV)”
As we have just seen, loving God and loving people is not mutually exclusive. We can’t love God and not love people. We may hate sins but not the sinners, and pray for God’s protection against evil and for His mercy upon evil doers.
It’s the way of the cross for us with hands raised heavenward and arms extended out towards our fellowmen. As we draw close to God in fellowship and receive His love more and more each day, we will become an overflowing channel for His love. He is the Source of love for God is love. Love is divine, that is, it originates from God.
As we are filled with His love, we will progressively put God first by doing what He says, which includes loving others as we love ourselves, and affirm our love for Him by loving people fervently. God comes first, but His people comes a close second.