1 John 3: 11 – 24 NLT
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” (v 11)
Verse 11 is the crucial statement of this chapter. John heard that statement at the Last Supper, and he took it to heart.
John 13:34-35 (NLT)
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
This is a pivotal characteristic of a Christ follower. If a person truly believes that Jesus loved them so much that he died for them, they will in turn love others, especially other Christ followers. Those loving/caring relationships will stand out to the world in which we live – that egocentric world.
12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.”
John gives us a contrasting picture of people who love God and those who don’t. I’m going to give you a summary of what Charles Swindoll said in his commentary, Living Insights: 1 John about Cain. The account of Cain murdering his brother, Abel, is told in Genesis 4. In the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, God made them clothes of animal skins. Perhaps, that was the beginning of animal sacrifices for sin. When Cain offered fruits or veggies, God said he wanted a blood sacrifice – which is what Abel gave. Cain was angry and apparently didn’t want to go along with God’s request, and as a result, killed his brother out in the fields. People who are not believers don’t follow God’s instructions, and may even be hostile to Christians.
In contrast, Jesus demonstrated “what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us” (v. 16). Christ followers are encouraged to follow Jesus’ example – not that we have to give up our lives (although that might be a possibility), but John says we should be willing to give up our money if we see fellow believers struggling. Now in our culture today, that likely hits a sore spot. We’re so focused on doing well and getting all the latest stuff. But John is telling us if we are aware of a need, we should do something. We’re not just words, but action as well. That’s a challenge!
At the end of this chapter, John again stresses our need to love one another. “We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” (v.23) He has actually told us 5 times in these 13 verses that we should love one another. The wording changed a little, but the message didn’t. Although John talks about our need to love other Christians, I don’t think that means we can treat non-Christians poorly. Sometimes I get the feeling that non-Christians see us as legalistic, judgmental people. What we really should be known for is our love for others – period. God didn’t decide to die only for wonderful people. Jesus died for every single one of us. Our thankfulness to him for that should be obvious to the world around us – we are loving, gracious people.
John definitely challenges me today – hopefully you too.
Our song for today stresses how much God loves me/you. Sometimes I think we need to concentrate on what God has done for us rather than on what we need to do. When we realize how much we are loved, our love for others becomes a natural outcome.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by Fernando Ortega