“We know that we have passed out of death into live, 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.” ~ 1 John 3:14-15
Explanation of the Text: What comfort there is to be found within the confines of these verses! John provides for us a simple test of how to know if we are saved. By this we know that we have eternal life with Christ: if we love others. Interestingly John identifies our love not with everyone in general, but specifically with fellow believers. It is true and clear from the teachings of Christ that we as believers should convey God’s love to all people, but the test of assurance here is directed towards other believers. If we should love the people of the world, how much deeper is the importance of loving those who are like-minded and followers of Jesus Christ so as to not create division within the church? If we cannot convey Christ’s love to those who are like us, how are we to convey Christ’s love to those who are not of Christ?
As part of the Ten Commandments, God issues the decree that people are not to murder. As Jesus Christ begins His ministry, He expands the definition of murder to include hate (Matthew 5:21-22). Hate is not only inconsistent with the lifestyle of believers, but it equates to murder. How serious the sin of hate is then and the lack of love in one’s life indicates the lack of eternal life!
Examination & Application of the Text: In contrast to a world that hates us (see verse 13) we are to love others. As I have repeatedly shared throughout our devotions in 1 John, we must remember that love must be defined by God and not by the world. To show true love is to show Christ.
It is this love that affirms one’s salvation. It is indicative of a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. This means that if love is not present in one’s life, there should be cause to pause and ponder one’s heart before the Lord. As a person looks upon himself or herself, there is a compelling factor to ask, “Does my love reflect the love that is God or does it reflect hate that is not of God?” A genuine self-examination then causes one to react according to the answer that is generated. Compelled by the love of God, may we love others.
Questions to Consider:
- What is love according to God’s definition?
- In what ways do you reflect it to others? In what ways to you portray the opposite?
- Is there an imbalance between the two and if so, what needs to change in your life to correct that imbalance?