1 John 3:11 ESV
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
How should we love one another? With the love of Christ. And, how did Christ love us? He literally gave his life up for us to deliver us out of our slavery to sin so that we could walk in his holiness and righteousness.
This was not the only way he showed love for the people of this world, though. When he walked this earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, he raised the dead back to life, he comforted the sorrowful, he delivered people from demons, he fed the hungry, he performed many miracles in people’s hearts and lives, he forgave sins, and he gave people a new and living hope.
And, that new and living hope was/is that if we deny self, take up our cross daily and follow (obey) Jesus, and we leave our old lives of sin behind us, we can be in union with God, in fellowship with the Spirit, be delivered out of our bondage to sin, and we can live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, empowered by God’s Spirit now living within us (Rom. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-26).
And, this will result in eternal life with God (Jn. 3:16, 36; Jn 4:14, 36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 6:27-68; Jn. 10:27-30; Rom. 2:6-8; Rom. 6:22-23; Gal. 6:7-8).
So, if we are to love one another as Christ loved us, we should emulate Christ in what he did. We should minister to others’ critical needs in whatever ways God leads and equips us, and in ways which will meet their true needs, but not necessarily their wants. It is a love that considers what is truly best for the other person, as God determines what is best for them.
As well, we should show compassion, empathy and concern towards those who are truly hurting, who are lonely, afflicted, sorrowful, and in need. And, we should pray for guidance in how to best minister to those needs, too. And, we should pray for those people, and pray for ourselves, too, for greater sensitivity to people’s true needs, and for wisdom to know how best to meet those real needs.
And, to be like Jesus in giving up our lives and reputations to see others set free from their slavery to sin, and to see them living for Christ and for his righteousness, we need to be sharing with them the full gospel of our salvation, i.e. the whole counsel of God. And, we need to be confronting sin in sinful human beings, calling for repentance (turning away from sin) and calling for walks of obedience to Christ and submission to his Lordship.
And, then we need to be teaching them the deep truths of God’s Holy Word, helping them to grow to maturity in Christ, willing to answer their questions, as best as we can, and always pointing them to Jesus and not to ourselves.
1 John 3:12-13 ESV
“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. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
But, when we love others like Jesus loved the people of this world, and like he loves us, in the truest sense of how he demonstrated God’s love in various ways, we will also be treated as he was treated. And, that means that we will have people, even the religious, and even the church goers, and even pastors of churches, who will hate us, reject us and persecute us.
For, those who are living in sin, doing what is evil in God’s sight, will often be jealous of those who are living righteously, regarding their relationship with Christ. Or, they will resent them, for their righteousness will make them feel uncomfortable, and it may be an affront to them and to their wicked lifestyles. For, even if no words are exchanged, the light of Christ emanating from their lives will be an affront to the wickedness of the unrighteous.
And, just as Jesus’ greatest persecutors were leaders/rulers within the temple of God, and they were the people of Jesus’ own faith, and even members of his own family and community, so it will be with us. So, it should not surprise us if we are hated, rejected, ostracized, forsaken and forgotten by others who call themselves followers of Jesus.
Especially since so much of today’s church, at least here in America, has gone the way of the world, and has thus adopted the cheap grace gospel which permits them to continue in their sinful practices without guilt, if we are truly living for Jesus, and if we are sharing the truth of the gospel so that others can go free, we will be considered oddballs, and we probably won’t have a lot of close friends, either.
1 John 3:14-15 ESV
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Love is the abiding factor in whether or not we are in true relationship with Almighty God, and whether or not we are genuinely saved from our sins and we have eternal life with God. But, this is agape love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is moral, pure, honest, holy, upright and faithful. This love is not some sentimental feeling.
The scriptures are real clear that to love God is to obey his commands, and that if we don’t walk in obedience to his commands that we don’t love him, and thus we don’t know him, and thus we don’t have eternal life with God.
And, to love others with this agape love is not just being “nice” to them. And, it isn’t giving them a pat on the back to make them feel better about themselves even while they are steeped in sinful rebellion against God. But, to love others is to love like Jesus loved/loves us, and it is to honor God, respect him, to revere and to obey him, and to honor and value what is holy, good, righteous, pure and upright, too.
This is not saying that we must love others with absolute perfection and that we are never, not once, to fail to love others with this God-like love. But, what this is talking about is, again, what we practice. What is the primary way in which we relate to other people, and to God, for that matter?
Do we hate others? Do we do evil to them willfully, habitually, and without regard for how we are hurting them over and over again? Such as by stealing from them, cheating on them, slandering them, committing adultery against them, and turning others against them, out of spite, and/or out of total selfishness and a strong desire to please ourselves above all others?
Or, are we considerate of others, thinking about what is best for them, and do we treat them kindly like how Jesus treats us, in reality?
Loving God and loving others with God-like (agape) love results in eternal life with God. But, if hate is what we practice by willfully and habitually doing others harm, with an unwillingness to repent of our sin, and to change how we treat God and others, what this teaches is that we don’t truly have the love of Christ living within us, and it won’t result in eternal life, but in eternal separation from God and eternal punishment in the fires of hell.
But, these are not my words. This is what this passage of scripture and many others like them consistently teach throughout the New Testament. For, genuine faith in Jesus Christ results in changed hearts and lives in conformity with Christ and his holiness. It does not result in lives which hold on to their old lives of living for sin and self while they claim heaven as their eternal destiny.
So, genuine faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin, and it lives to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 6:7-8).
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Hymn lyrics by Henry F. Lyte, 1833
Music attr. to Mozart, 1831/ Arr. Hubert P. Main, 1872
Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still mine own.
Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.
Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me; heav’n will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me, while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
*Copyright status is Public Domain
*Caution: This link may contain ads