Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 John 3: 15 – 17

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Tighten your seatbelt. The apostle John is going to take us on quite a ride today. He is teaching on love. He starts by convicting a good number of us as murderers. And no murderer, he tells us, will inherit eternal life. The life of the eternal one does not abide in us if we hate anyone because the eternal one is love. It is logical but what a revelation. Then he contrasts Jesus with those who hate in a demonstration of how love behaves. Hate kills but love lays down its life for the other. And, as if that isn’t strong enough, John goes on to say that we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren too.

If eternal life is living in me then love is abiding in me and love lays down its life for another. The eternal life in me necessarily means that even though I lay down my life, I will yet live. So, there is more here than mere mortality. There is more to this than laying down my mortal life. Let me put it in Paul’s kind of phraseology. If I go to war for my countrymen and lay down my life but have not love, then I am nothing and useless. So what is going on here? It is the love in my heart that is important not my acts of martyrdom. I could martyr myself in my family situation continually from some need to feel victimized rather than out of love. Then my actions, rather than being lovely, are repugnant. Still, there is more here because we still do not reach the difference between laying down our mortal life like Jesus did and laying down our everyday life, which he also did. You see, the laying down of one’s life is not measured in heartbeats and breath alone. There are people, you can think of some, who lay down their lives daily for the brethren, for you and me. You may have some in your own family who consistently put aside their wants, desires and plans in order to meet the needs of others. And I do not refer to people who do this in a dysfunctional, unhealthy way. We are talking here about people who have a revelation of God within them and seek to live out of his will, his love and his power. These are the true children of God. You might be one of these.

Then there are the rest of us and John addresses us in the next verse. Verse 17 says that even though we have the worlds goods we don’t part with a thing even when we have the opportunity to bless others. I heard a minister say one time that she has set a minimum tip amount. No matter how lousy the service nor how inexpensive the meal, she tips well. Now, why would she do that? She has a revelation of the love of God. She is seeking to bless people, not punish them. Your message will preach much louder from a position of love and grace than it will out of selfishness or recrimination. I had a problem right here and I will admit it. I thought a tip was a reward for having given exemplary service. This minister, though, sees it as an opportunity to bless someone. Which of us is closer to God’s heart?

But here is the thing that really amazes me about today’s passage.   John begins by declaring that people with hate in their hearts are murderers and then ends talking about giving. What is going on here? Has John just linked the love of God and His living in us with us being generous givers? I will let you answer that for yourself but I certainly am having a moment of pause (selah). I kind of want to run out and give something away. The church has gone from every one selling their possessions and meeting each other’s needs (see Acts 4) to a group of tight fisted, fear controlled counterfeits. I don’t want to be that way. I want Acts 4 kinds of moves of God so I think that must mean that I need to be an Acts 4 kind of Christian. Where has our charity gone? Why are we no longer generous? To where has our love flown?

The only thing I know to do is to get on our faces before God and ask him. He must reveal to each of us the condition of our hearts and how we can fill our proper place in Him. The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that His answer will involve love and generosity. Will we hang onto our worldly possessions and add annually to our trove at the cost of our souls? I don’t think so. I think we only need see the truth and we will all respond appropriately. And I believe that John has shown us truth.

Leave a Reply