August 13 2021
Today, Friday August 13
Love, Sacrifice and Service 1 John 3:15-19 “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
In this passage we are looking at the four possible "levels of relationships," on which a person may live: murder (1 John 3:11-12), hatred (1 John 3:13-15), indifference (1 John 3:16-17), and Christian compassion (1 John 3:18-24).
The first level is murder and Cain is used as an example. We are not told by what outward sign the Lord accepted Abel's sacrifice and rejected Cain's. It may be that He sent fire from heaven to consume Abel's sacrifice of an animal and its blood. But we are told the results: Abel went away from the altar with God's witness of acceptance in his heart, but Cain went away angry and disappointed (Gen. 4:4-6). God warned Cain that sin was crouching at the door like a dangerous beast (Gen. 4:7) but promised that if Cain would obey God, he, like Abel, would enjoy peace. Instead of heeding God's warning, Cain listened to Satan's voice and plotted to kill his brother. His envy had turned to anger and hatred. He knew that he was evil and that his brother was righteous. Rather than repent, as God commanded him to do, he decided to destroy his brother. It is so sad that so many in this world live on this level of relationships.
The second level is hatred (vs. 13-15). The fact that you have never actually murdered anyone should not make you proud or complacent. Have you ever harbored hatred in your heart? Hatred does the hater far more damage than it does anyone else (Matt. 5:21-26). Jesus said that anger put a man in danger of facing the local court. Calling a brother an "empty-headed fool" put him in danger of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish council. But calling him a "cursed fool" put him in danger of eternal judgment in hell. Hatred that is not confessed and forsaken actually puts a man into a spiritual and emotional prison! (Matt. 5:25) The antidote for hatred is love. "Hateful and hating one another" is the normal experience of an unsaved person (Titus 3:3). But when a hateful heart opens to Jesus Christ, it becomes a loving heart. Then instead of wanting to "murder" others through hatred, one wants to love them and share with them the message of eternal life
The third level is indifference (vs. 16-17). But the real test of Christian love is not simply failure to do evil to others but through love to do good for them. We all know John 3:16, but how many of us pay much attention to 1 John 3:16? It is wonderful to experience the blessing of John 3:16; but it is even more wonderful to share that experience by obeying 1 John 3:16: Christ laid down life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Christian love involves sacrifice and service. Christ did not simply talk about His love; He died to prove it (Rom. 5:6-10). But God does not ask us to lay down our lives. He simply asks us to help a brother in need. John wisely turns from "the brethren" in 1 John 3:16 to the singular, "his brother," in 1 John 3:17. It is easy for us to talk about "loving the brethren" and to neglect to help a single other believer. Christian love is personal and active. This is what Jesus had in mind in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
Tomorrow, we will talk about the fourth level, compassion (vs. 18-24).
Today, may the Lord help us to make sure we are not destroying ourselves and others with bitterness and hatred in our hearts.