October 30 – All of Us – Be Careful

1 John 2: 12 – 14 NLT

“I am writing to you who are God’s children
    because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
13 I am writing to you who are mature in the faith
    because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I am writing to you who are young in the faith
    because you have won your battle with the evil one.
14 I have written to you who are God’s children
    because you know the Father.
I have written to you who are mature in the faith
    because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
I have written to you who are young in the faith
    because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
    and you have won your battle with the evil one.”

The first time I read these verses, I wondered if I had somehow made a mistake and gone back and reread them. But no. The ideas in verses 12 and 13 are repeated in verses 14 and 15. John is about to give some warnings in his letter. He refers to three groups of people in the church. The “fathers” are the older mature Christians; the “children” would be the very new believers. Those who have been Christians for a few years would be “young in the faith”. In these verses he wants to remind them of what they have accomplished so far; he is reinforcing their commitment to Jesus.

Everyone can know their sins have been forgiven by Christ who was God from the very beginning. Knowing who Jesus really is gives us so much more strength because we can believe what he says. In being forgiven by the eternal God, we can know that Satan no longer has any power over us. We are free from the control Satan has over this world. John repeats those ideas again. We know God. There is a personal relationship with him. We know Jesus, God’s son, and who also was with God right from the beginning. We can be strong since the battle with Satan has been won by Jesus.

Why would John repeat these ideas? He wants us to know who God is, that we have a relationship with him, and that we can be strong against Satan’s efforts to get us off track. We are going to be tempted by Satan to get back under his influence, so we need to know we can stand strong. And now John is going to tell us what we have to be careful about.

1 John 2: 15 – 17 NLT

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”

If some of you have read these verses in older translations, you might have heard these phrases. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (v. 16  New American Standard Bible) I like the way the New Living Bible (NLT) translates them. I can relate to those words better. What do we have to watch out for?

Our culture in Canada and North America puts those three things at the top of priorities. We want to feel good; we want more of everything – fun times, more experiences in different places, better living conditions – just everything; we are encouraged to do better and own more, be more important. Many of those things are not necessarily bad. It’s when we put them as priorities that we lose sight of God. For example, I want to feel good. Massages feel so good; even exercise classes give me energy and uplifted spirits. I love my soft, big recliner that makes it so easy to relax and read or watch TV. Clothes made with lovely fabrics feel so good against my skin. I want beautiful landscaping so my eyes have a pleasant view when I look out my window. None of those things are bad/wrong. But if a lot of my time (and money) is spent on making myself feel good, then I need to stop and reconsider.

John warns us about craving everything we see. When we decided to downsize a little over 7 years ago, it was interesting to think about my reactions to some of the houses we looked at. I was definitely drawn to the more expensive places with high-end features. Do I shop at the pricey boutiques? Do I buy the latest gadgets? Again, it’s not wrong/bad to have nice things, but is that a priority in my life?

Then there is the whole area of “pride in our achievements and possessions”. We definitely look up to people who are successful in our culture. We admire the sports stars, the business people who grow large companies, movie stars and singers. In our own jobs, we want to be important. It’s nice to drive a flashy car; live in a suburb with huge houses, join the clubs with prestigious people.

John is telling us to be careful and not get taken up with all those things. They can lead to behaviour that is not loving and caring for others. They can fan jealousy, greed, pride, self-absorption, even hate for people or things that get in our way. God can get put on the back-burner instead of being front in our lives.

Philippians 4:8

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Our song for today is First by Lauren Daigle.

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