1 John 3:11-18 focuses on “Love” which is at the center of the Christian Faith. Let us begin with the Author. John makes significantly more references per chapter to “Love” than any other New Testament writer including Paul. In his 50 chapters, John refers to the word “love” [“agape” – G26 and “agapao” – G25] in 76 verses and more than 100 times in those verses. By comparison, in 87 chapters, Paul refers to the same word 99 times, with far less multiple references in each verse. John discusses the Theology of Love from every Biblical perspective, although Paul’s “1 Corinthians 13” masterpiece, and his “Fruit of the Spirit” analysis are both pivotal and popular. Could it be a mere coincidence that, the Apostle John, the most prolific New Testament writer on “Love”, is also known as “the Disciple whom Jesus loved”?
John teaches that “Love is of God” (1 John 4:7), and that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). He sets us right on the sequence in the description of love… “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…” (1 John 4:10). Every child knows John 3:16 in which he provides the internal motivation for the ultimate sacrifice that God made for a lost and hell-bound mankind. Then he irks us in 1 John 3:16 by “daring” to compare how God loves us, with how we must love one another – “…and we should lay down our lives for the brethren.” – Ouch!!! And whereas this latter Scripture has never been as popular as John 3:16, there is nothing optional in it. John indicates that obeying God is the manifestation of love (John 14:15). He definitively states that in the absence of Love, we have no part with God (1 John 4:7-8). And practically, how can we love God who we have not seen if we do not love our brother who we can see? (1 John 4:20). And if you think that meditational lust being equal to adultery is bad, then try meditational hate being equal to murder (1 John 3:15). Then he ties it all together by teaching that our willingness to love each other will be the ultimate evangelistic magnet that will attract men to Him as we are identified as His disciples (John 13:35). And trust me, all that is the short version.
In 1 John 3:11, John identifies the imperative to love each other as the original message. Cain murdered Abel because his evil thoughts manifested themselves in his evil action of murder (verse 12). We looked at this on July 10, 2017. Verses 14-15, squarely place the acid test of love for each other as proof of whether or not we have passed from death unto life.
Now is a good time for each of us to ask God this question… Is there anyone dead or alive who we hate? Anyone at Church? Anyone at work? Anyone in our community? Anyone on this forum? And don’t even think of trying to dilute the question. If we do not love someone with whom we interact, and especially a Christian brother or sister, according to John, we hate them. And if we hate them, in God’s sight it is just as if we have murdered them. If you are now thinking about making a special EFFORT to try to love someone, forget it. Love is the Fruit of the Spirit, and is possible only as we allow the light of God’s love to be shed abroad in our hearts, and we see others in the preferential way that God sees us.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org