Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Real Christian Love

Along with being home ill today and not at work, I missed church on Sunday. Thankfully, from my church's web site, I can listen to sermons, including the last Lord's Day. So today I listened to the sermon from Sunday that is part of a ongoing series from 1 John titled Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up, the Letters of John. Click here if you would like to listen and choose message 15.

What an encouraging and convicting part of scripture on true Christian love from 1 John 3:10-18.

1 John 3:10-18 (New American Standard Bible)

10By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious:
anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does
not love his brother. 11For this is the message which you have heard from the
beginning, that we should love one another; 12not as Cain, who was of the evil
one and slew his brother And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds
were evil, and his brother's were righteous.
13Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14We know that we
have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does
not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and
you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16We know love by
this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for
the brethren.
17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in
need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Here are some of the thoughts that stuck me. The whole book of 1 John is being addressed to Christians, one who has been born of God, one who has a pattern of practicing righteousness. Practicing righteousness includes showing love to his brother. A true believer can not be practicing righteousness if he is not loving his brother or one another. As Christians we love because Christ first loved us. He has changed us, He has set a pattern of how we should love, He is our Supreme example of true love. When we as believers show love to a brother or to the brethen, our love is two fold: it is an example of true love of Christ to the dying world around us and to the believers among us.

The love we show is a proof of our faith, of what Christ has done in our hearts. Verse 11 tells the reader that the message from the very beginning has been love for a brother and that "we should love one another". The "should"in that verse would better be stated as "ought". We ought to love one another. Believers are to love one another, it is what we should do, it is part of our job requirement. Sadly, there will be failure in this area because we are humans and still have sin in our lives. My Hebrew Greek study Bible tells me that the verb "should" is a PSA- present subjunctive active. The present subjunctive mood refers to continuous or repeated action, without implying anything about the time of the action, and the active voice represents the action as accomplished by the subject of the verb. In Greek it is to be distinguished from the middle and passive voices.

John continues his grain of thought by giving a contrast of the righteous and the unrighteous in verse 12. A blood brother should or "ought" to most of all love his natural blood brother but here we see that Cain slew his brother. Slew here is just not a slashing of one's throat but a butchering, a brutal act. Cain killed because his deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous. We need to not be surprised if the world around us hates us because of our righteous deeds. As John continues in the text, we were once like Cain but we have been changed. A proof of this transformation is that we have love for the brethen.

Now where the meat attaches to the bone is in our application of loving a brother. Who am I to care for, to what end? Verse 17 has the two qualifing factors, a brother (and) who is in need, we are to help him in whatever way we can. Not in word or with tongue but in deed and in truth. True love will cost us, it will take it's toll, it will not be convenient. True love is practical, meeting the needs that you personally see, not to walk away and pretend you did not see the need. True love and care for a person who is in need will take energy and energy that you sometimes don't have. Loving your brother will put a demand on us. "Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, love does not brag, and it is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;" (1 Cor 13:4-8a)

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