I trust your time with God this week has been fruitful! Have you taken time to thank Him for Who He is?
On Monday, we discovered that we can walk as children of God or children of the devil. We studied a passage that showed us that children of God practice righteousness. I challenged you to look at your life and ask God to help you walk more as a child of God every day. Today we continue in the same passage and get some practical application.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 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? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:11-18 (ESV)
From the beginning, we’ve heard the message of love. Because of our sin nature, we’ve acted in hate since the beginning. We see the early example of Cain (evil) and Abel (righteous).
Do any verses stand out to you? For me, it’s verse 15 – everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. I confess that there are some brothers I’m not so fond of. But do I hate them? Can I justify my behavior – or lack of behavior – in light of verse 17? 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? Is it just about goods? Could I see my brother in need and fail to pray? That’s a need, too! How many times have I looked at a brother who is going through a trial and said “Good. He had it coming.” How has my dislike of a person led me to biblical hatred, which is murder? Ouch!
Verse 16 gives practical application in Jesus’ life. Is that act available to us today? We can certainly die while helping a brother get out of harm’s way, but there has to be other ways which we can demonstrate love. Can we give a “care kit” to the homeless person we see on the street corner every day? Can we send a complimentary note about our child’s teacher – to the school administration? How about a flower to a coworker – just because? Could you “pay it forward” in the line at Starbucks and pay for the order of the person in front of you? (I did that once, and it was a life changing experience. The person, an older lady, asked me why. I said that I was showing God’s love. Turns out she was Jewish and recently widowed. Her eyes filled with tears as she told me of her husband of 60+ years, and she thanked me and said no one had been so kind in a long time. I went away feeling good, and my short witness of God may have planted a seed that will be seen in heaven.)
At home, could you show love by taking 5 seconds before you speak when things are going not so well? Could you make dinner for your spouse, or do something on that chore list without being nagged?
There are many ways to show God’s love. I pray that you will make a decision to show God’s love in a new way at least once this week.
Finally today, I leave you with a passage in James. Too often, I’ve seen Christians (including myself, unfortunately) listen to a person’s tale of need and simply offer to pray for them. This passage is very convicting – I am to love in deed as well as word.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:15-16 (ESV)
Please take some time to get with God and ask Him to give you an opportunity to show His love in a practical way this week.
See you Friday! I hope to hear some wonderful stories of your adventures in practical love.