LOVE IS ACTION
Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3: 15-18).
As I read through John’s letter, I become aware that he is steeped in the teachings of Jesus.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’(Matt. 5: 21-22).
We know that these are the words of Jesus but what was He getting at? The act of murder begins far back in the mind of the perpetrator. John missed out all the in-between bits and went to the heart of the issue. Jesus taught His disciples that murder begins in the attitude of the murderer long before he commits the act.
There was something Jesus hated with a passion in the hearts of the Pharisees – contempt for another person. This is the heart of idolatry – “I am better than you.” Arrogance, according to 1 Sam. 15: 23 is idolatry.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
When one person elevates himself above another, the despised person is in his way and becomes dispensable. Long before the actual act of murder, the “murderer” has done the deed in his heart.
Once again John is identifying the root which produces the fruit. God’s love cannot exist side by side with hatred in the same person. Any ill will towards another is the fruit of selfishness which is the root of a heart that has never been changed by the power of God.
What did John mean by laying down our lives for our brothers? Did he literally mean that we must die for one another? It could in the context of the vicious persecution that threatened the lives of the Christians in John’s day. Believers were the targets of both Roman and Jewish hatred. It would have been easy for believers to retaliate with hatred towards their persecutors.
But John makes the issue of loving our brothers far more basic. During the reign of Domitian, who was nicknamed “the beast”, only those who worshipped him and received a mark to identify them as worshippers were permitted to buy and sell at the local market. That left believers who refused to worship him and had, therefore not received his mark, destitute. “Laying down their lives” for their fellow believers was as simple as sharing their meagre supply of food or goods with them.
John was adamant that true love for God was measured, not in believing the right things but in doing the right things. How tragic that there are thousands of students in Bible Schools and universities across the world who are diligently studying theology and filling their heads with knowledge about God in the abstract so that they, in turn can pass on that knowledge to congregants in thousands of churches around the world while the hungry are still hungry and the poor are still poor. I know because I was one of them! Not once in the three-and-a-half years that I was in Bible College, was I taught that my ministry was to meet the needs of others at my expense.
Of Josiah, king of Judah, God said, through the prophet Jeremiah,
‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord (Jer. 22: 16).
Paul wrote to the Roman church that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. If we are truly born of God, the love of God is in us, but it is up to us to express that love by giving it away to others in need. Hatred comes from the root of selfishness. Love is the fruit of a life that has been captivated by the love of God. The fruit displays the nature of the root.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
For more details, check my website: