THE L-SHAPED LIFE
Lord, teach me to love people.
Read 1 John 3:11–24
More on Love and Hatred
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
a 1 John 3:13 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 16.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectIs there anyone you have trouble loving?
Cain (12) messed up seriously (Genesis 4). He sacrificed to the Lord but he murdered his brother. Now, towards the end of the Bible, John is on a similar theme. Love for God and love for our brother and sister go together. They are inseparable. Christianity is always L-shaped, combining a “vertical” dimension (God) with a “horizontal” dimension (our fellow human beings).
Hatred has been in the world for a long time. Cain hated his brother, Abel, who had done nothing to deserve it. Even Jesus experienced hatred. John strengthens his readers for the hatred that may well come their way. They can take encouragement from their own concern for others, which is a sign of being on the side of life, not death (14, 15). “But do I really have eternal life?” asks a sensitive conscience.
Fortunately, it doesn’t depend on our conscience, but on God, who wonderfully is “greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (19, 20). We can trust Him.
The horizontal challenge of these verses is unmissable. “Love one another,” “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters,” have pity on those in need, love with actions and in truth (11, 16, 17, 23). It is a lifelong mission. As Jesus gave Himself for others in big ways and small, so do we.
Is there a charity helping our brothers and sisters in need locally or internationally you would like to renew or develop an interest in, and support?
Jesus, my Friend, teach me how to see others the way You see them. Teach me to love even when its tough.