We learn more than we realize from our parents. Not only do we learn from them how to speak and walk and ride a bicycle, we learn how to treat other people. If we see our parents berating a hapless grocery store employee, we’re likely to assume that’s how we should treat grocery store employees, too. On the other hand, if we see our parents showing kindness and understanding to a hapless grocery store employee, we will be likely to treat the employee with kindness and understanding as well.
In the same way, we learn from God how to treat other people. 1 John 4 describes how God has treated us. Verses 9-10 read, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” These two verses nicely wrap up God’s treatment of us: though we do not deserve it, he loves us unconditionally.
How then should we treat other people? 1 John 4 tells us in verse 11. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” We should treat all people in the way that God treated us. No one in this world deserves love, including us – but we should treat all people with love, because God does.
In addition, we should be clear about the reason for our love. Psalm 150 is a straightforward Psalm. It says some variation of “Praise the Lord” 13 times in 6 verses. The last verse says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Our love is not without purpose. We are to do what we can to encourage everyone that has breath to praise the Lord. If the people we love don’t see the source of our love, our love changes nothing. On the other hand, if the people we love are led to Christ, HIS love changes everything.