1 John 3:1-6
Let us establish one fact to begin with. The Apostle John reassures us: “God is love….we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19). God is the source of all true love. He goes on to say “If anyone says ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (:20). The rationale is that it is impossible to love someone you can’t see if one hasn’t been able to love the persons we do see – our brothers and sisters, and our neighbour.
The Holy Spirit living in each believer’s heart, grows fruit in us. Most of us are familiar with the verse that begins “The fruit of the Spirit is love……” (Galatians 5:22). Why does God mention love first? Is it because without love, all the other segments of fruit growing in our lives, would shrivel, distort? Love is foundational because “God is love”. Isn’t this why Jesus called each believer to “love God and love your neighbour”, naming these as the two greatest commandments? (Matthew 22:37-39).
Jesus left His disciples with a “new” commandment: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Why was this so different? The last 6 of the Ten Commandments required behaviour that was loving towards all others. ”Honour your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, don’t steal, do not bear false witness against your neighbour, do not covet your neighbour’s possessions” Exodus 20:12-17). Love requires self-restraint, which takes us back to the verses in Galatians. The only way we will know God is working in our lives is to see the changes that are being made by the Holy Spirit, one of which is ”self control” (Galatians 5:23) Wow!
When love is growing in our hearts we will be careful not to hurt someone else. Our bodies and even our tongues will be restrained. The tongue can wound another’s heart. James describes it like this: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person” (James 3:6). However, James has also written words of great hope “If you really keep the royal law, found in scripture: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).
Some years ago a child-rearing philosophy became popular. Use “tough love” the experts said. It wasn’t noted then but it stands to reason that the discipline required to correct another, begins with me. Therefore I must examine my own heart and life to see if I require more of someone else than I do of myself. This is why Jesus came…to show us the Father’s love! It is sacrificial. But – it is also demanding. Jesus’ death wasn’t easy – it cost Him everything! It was absolutely necessary for anyone to have a relationship with His Father. How far are we, His disciples, willing to go to put that into practise?
There is a danger that we offer a gospel of quick fix, with a love that is really meaningless. When we glimpse the agony of our Saviour on the cross our hearts are overwhelmed by His love. Then came the glory of His resurrection! Unthinkable! It is the fruit of His passionate love! The greatest of all possible hope!! Because He toughed it out to prove His love is genuine, we are offered the gift of faith.
Is it possible for us to receive this kind of love from the Lord Jesus Himself? Would we be strong enough to withdraw from a relationship that is inappropriate, not from lack of love, but because our love has become pure?
The Holy Spirit is pleading with each soul who hears the gospel. His love offers us the opportunity to share with others what it means to be free from the guilt with which so many live. We cannot possibly earn our salvation. We can’t even clean up our act in order to be acceptable to God. The miracle of His love is that He reaches down to lift us out of the pit and set our feet upon a rock (Psalm 40:2). This is tough love. All glory to God!
Read 1 John 3:1-6.
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)