How we view and treat others is a vital part of our Christian faith. In fact, some of the greatest statements that a Christian can make is their reaction to what others do to them and how they treat other people. How we treat someone else is a witness to other people and ourselves.
DO NOT LOVE LIKE THE WORLD (1 John 3:11-13).
The message of the love that the world gives us has shifted away from a Biblical standpoint. “From the beginning” (vs. 11) reminds us of a God-given message about love. God’s love from the beginning has been a steadfast and unchanging love for His creation even in spite of our rebellion and constant rejection of Him. Since God has loved us, we have seen that love is for others and that we should be about showing our love for one another.
What is this type of love? It first is “not as cain” (vs. 2) who killed his younger brother in a fit of rage and jealousy. In only one generation from Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden, we find murder, an act of hatred toward another that was so strong that Cain sought the life of a family member. Jealousy, envy, greed, are all results of our selfish tendency. Our inward bent towards self-interest and self-preservation keeps us from developing real relationships and becoming a person about others.
The standard of love given by God in verse one to love one another receives a cold reception in this world. We should not be surprised when our attempts at showing our love toward others are ill-received. It is not hidden on whether or not “if the world hate you” (vs. 3). Love in the present age has been brought to only a passionate emotion towards others and how they make us feel good and not the love of scripture that calls out to us to care for others without desire for anything in return.
LOVE FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST (1 John 3:14-18).
The beauty of the scriptural illustration of the Church as the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 is that in the midst much diversity there is unity. A witness to the believer of soul transformation is “we love the brethren” (1 Jn. 3:14). It ‘s hard to get along with personalities that are different from our own, but the Holy Spirit that is indwelling in us also brings with Him the Love of God, making it possible for us to love those that may otherwise be unloveable for us. To not have a love for those in the family of faith but hate, lives in “death” (vs. 14) and is a “murder” (vs. 15) to themselves and others.
The greatest example of love is that of Jesus Christ. The manifestation of the love God came to us when Jesus became man and died for us on Calvary. Therefore, the love of God also brings love in us that “we ought to down our lives for the brethren” (vs. 16). Directly implied is the ability to give up our life for someone but also that we ought to be able to lay down our lives for others in different ways. We can put ourselves in positions where we can help others that need it.
The things we have acquired whether they are talents, time or treasures can be used to show our love for others. To give up our things for the sake of others is to show that the love of God “dwelleth” (vs. 17) in us. In this physical way, we love beyond words “in deed and in truth” (vs. 18).
A HEART OF LOVE AND BELIEF (1 JOHN 3:19-24).
Assurance and confidence develop over time, and the displays of God’s love in us and towards us grows those things in us. The love of God helps us to “assure our hearts before him” (vs. 19). Even in times when we fail to love others as we should, there is a confidence that God knows the good intentions we work towards because “God is greater than our heart.” Guilt can undermine the power of grace that has been given to us, but God can give us a clear conscience.
Having a clear conscience gives us “confidence toward God” (vs. 21). With that trust, we can come boldly in prayer because we know that “because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (vs. 22). The question might be asked, “what are the commandments” that we are to keep? We are to heed the Gospel call to “believe” and “love” (vs. 23). To believe in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, reminds us that even in our dealings with others we are to love in deed and truth. Our deeds should be performed in the name of Jesus. Our actions speak louder than words and the greatest sermons preached may be our actions, but we must explain our actions. To share a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus to meet the needs spiritually and physically. To do the same without His Name is only to deal with social injustices and perhaps be known as a friendly person.
To believe in Christ and follow His example of love in our daily lives when we are with other people is a powerful testimony. By this, we know that God “abideth in us, by the Spirit” (vs. 24). Not everyone who acts with compassion is filled with the love of God. While their actions may be right, they are not performing them in the name of God. We love others because God loves us and we share that. The Holy Spirit enables us to love others, and we receive a testimony within us that God indwells us and we are living in Him. That Christians love others not because they want others to act better towards them but because God’s people like others. We show others how to truly love.