Week 10! What!?! It doesn’t feel like we’ve been studying 1st John for two and half months, but we have. Have you appreciated the slow journey through this book? Do you like the format? Let me know. I’d like to here your feedback as I prepare for the next Quietly Through series.
THE IMPERATIVE OF LOVE
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:10-15)
Ideas to Consider
- What is the difference between the children of God and the children of the devil? (v 10, also see 1 John 3:7)
- How do we know we are children of God? (v14)
- What is hate equated to? (v15)
(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)
“Practice makes perfect.” I know you’ve heard that phrase before. If you want to get better at something you practice, practice, practice. Practicing righteousness is the big thing that separates the children of God from those of the devil.
God’s children, though certainly not perfect, desire to do what is right. They want to love their brothers and sisters in Christ, so they practice righteousness. They rely on the Holy Spirit to obey the message that they heard from the beginning (v11) to love one another just Jesus loved (John 13:34).
Children of the devil, on the other hand, don’t even bother to attempt to do what is right. And what is right? Loving God’s children. “Real love is the greatest righteousness, and real righteousness is the greatest love” (David Guzik). There are many who will attempt righteousness, but without love it is just empty religion (1 Corinthians 13:13).
And because the devil is opposed to God, we shouldn’t be surprised if those in the world oppose us. Hatred from the world is to be expected, hatred within the Church shouldn’t be (David Guzik).
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul instructs the church of Corinth on how love within the church:
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
When we love our brothers and sisters as Jesus commanded us to (and how Paul further instructed) we know that we are children of God. Love a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22); fruit that is only produced if the Spirit lives inside us. Let me be clear, we don’t love first and then the Spirit abides. The Spirit abides and then we love.
God’s children love because they are His children.
It’s by this overflow of love in our lives that “we know that we have passed from death to life” (v14).
And if we don’t love? We have two options:
- confess it as sin (see 1 John 1:9) and start walking in love; or
- continue to hate.
Choosing to hate is open rebellion against God and John, as well as Jesus (Matthew 5:21-26), equate it to murder. I don’t know about you, but I think confession and walking in love is the best option.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 4:31-5:2)
Lord, I want your Spirit to bear the fruit of love in my life. I want it to be evident that I am your child. Even if it means I will be hated by this world. If I am choosing to hate another member of the body of Christ, in any way, shape, or form, please reveal it to me so that I can confess it and begin walking in love. In the name of your Son I pray. Amen.
- Why should we practice righteousness? How do we do it?
- How does knowing Paul was writing to a church about their love for one another change how you read and understand 1 Corinthians 13?
- Love and hate are choices, not feelings or emotions. How does knowing this help us to love?
FURTHER STUDY IDEAS
Here are a few study ideas to do between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one or two a day in order to keep you thinking about the passage all week long.
- Start or continue a double entry journal.
- Hand write the passage.
- Did this passage make you think of other passages in the Bible? Share those passages with the rest of us in the comments.
- Read John 8:41-45. How is John’s message similar to Jesus’?
- Read Ephesians 2:1-6. How have God’s children passed from death to life?
- Read Genesis 4:5-9 and Hebrews 11:4. Why is Cain used as an example in John’s epistle?
- Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, write a post and share it in the next #QuietlyThroughThursday LINK UP.
- Read 1 John 1-5. Yep, all five chapters.
Did you miss any of the previous weeks of the Quietly Through 1st John series? Click the image below to see a list of all the posts.