1 John 4:20-21 (NLT)
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

The Apostle John is speaking on the subject of genuine love for others. Prior to these verses he has iterated how God gave His Son Jesus Christ out of love for us. God did this when many had not even sought God or thought about showing love towards God. Yet God loved us even though we may not have reached out to Him in love. God is perfect love and our love grows when we spend time with Him in prayer and the reading of His scriptures. As our love grows for God it pours over onto others around us. We cannot hate those who love God and say we love God, for the two are not consistent.

We learn to love like God by accepting the way God loves us. There are some who see themselves as unlovable and therefore God could never love them. But the reality is God is love and God loves us and wants us to learn to love ourselves and others in the same way He does. God’s grace and mercy demonstrate His love towards us. It is a grace undeserved and often unappreciated. Maybe you have seen the movie Pay it Forward where a young boy takes on a school project that expands into a personal experience. Instead of waiting for someone to do him a good favor he goes out and does good things for others. When he is asked what he wants he tells them he only wants them to show the same kindness to someone else. Then something marvelous happens; those who were shown love show love to others. God wants us to express our love in the same way. We are not to sit back and wait for someone to do something good for us before we can love, we are to show love to others first just as God has first shown us His love.