If you were to ask the average Christian on the street, “Why should you love people?” you probably wouldn’t get the answer, “Because my love for people is a confirmation of my love for God.” Yet, this is the primary reason to love our fellow man. People are created in His image and the way we treat them is a direct reflection of our devotion to God.
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; (Jm 3.8-9)
Throughout the Bible, God clearly expresses His expectation that we should treat one another with dignity based on our likeness to God. In Genesis, God requires the penalty of death for murder. He says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. (Gen 9.6). It is interesting to note God’s sentiments for His image-bearers remain even after their rebellion. Man’s worth is not based on his actions but on his likeness to God.
Jesus also refers to the importance loving our fellow image-bearers. He reminds people of the Great Commandment to love God and then says “The second is like it.” (Mt 22.37-39), meaning the commandment to love people is related to loving God. In Jesus’ description of the final judgment, He says men will be judged based on their treatment of others because it is a direct corollary to how they would treat Him (Mt 25:34-45).
Other New Testament writers express the same theme. James describes the disparity of blessing God and cursing man with the same tongue. His reasoning for the incongruence is man is made in the image of God. The Apostle John says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4.20). Our interaction with our fellow man is directly related to our fellowship with the Creator because man is made in the image of God.
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