Exploring 1 John Session 21 1 John 3:16-18

 

Exploring 1 John Session 21 1 John 3:16-18

 In this our 21st session exploration 1 John, once again the writer’s emphasis is on love as the determining factor in discerning if you are following Jesus if you are knowing God if you are walking in the light.  Hammering home what should be a familiar theme if you have been attending HBCC for a while, the love John writes of his not a feeling, it is an action, something that is demonstratable.  Loving God, loving others, the original message, is all about how we obey God and how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 John 3:16-18 (MSG)

 16 This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 

 18 My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love.

In our last session, we learned that Cain murdered his brother Abel.  That’s the way of the world.  The world is the culture that humanity apart from God has made.  People of the world murder others all the time.  Now we are not just speaking of the violence that we see so rampant, where one person takes the life of another, that certainly is murder.  Jesus tells us to look more closely.

 Matthew 5:21-22 (MSG)  "You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

 Words kill! Say that with me please:  Words Kill. 

 When it comes to brothers and sisters, John is referring to the family of God, those who have acknowledged their need for a savior, believed that Jesus is the savior they need, committed to being a disciple of the savior, asked God to accept their faith.  Have you followed that general path to knowing God? Have your sins been forgiven by the Almighty so that you can have a fresh start on life? Have you been adopted by the King of Glory, made co-heir to the Second Coming One?  If not you have an opportunity right now.  Confess you need a savior.  Ask God to show you the way.  God will answer the cry of your heart.  God, Himself will lead you into becoming a brother or sister in His Family.  If you need more help, please seek me out and I will tell you about the path of acknowledging, believing, committing, and asking.  I want you in the light. Let me help you get into the light.

 Those that left the congregation called those who remained fools and idiots.  They sneered that a belief in Jesus, being fully God and fully human, was ridiculous.  They treated those that stayed with the original gospel, that reveals incarnation, that reveals a resurrection, with disdain, as inferior, as hopelessly lost.  Like Cain, they murdered those who could not be persuaded to follow their new gospel, but instead of a stone, a club, a spear, a bullet, the Gnostics used words.  Words Kill.

How I treat a brother or sister in Christ is immensely important.  That’s one reason why respect is in our definition of loving others.  Loving others is treating everyone with respect and meeting another’s need out of our abundance.  Respect is showing deference, esteeming our fellow disciples greater than ourselves,  holding every Christ-follower in high regard, showing them our favor.  Respect is giving them the benefit of the doubt and most importantly forgiving them, bearing their burden, and encouraging them; listening to them.  Jesus is our example, our model, He demonstrates the behavior that we are to emulate.

Having acknowledged, believed committed, asked, and being assured of your relationship with God, recall how God treated you. 

 Romans 5:8 (MSG) But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

Colossians 1:21-22 (MSG) You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.

 John has written that God has lavished His love upon those who walk in the light (1 John 3:1).  Those walking in the light are to be conduits of that love, allowing God’s love to flow through their lives to others, especially those in the spiritual family.  Love requires that to live a devout and holy life and as the need arises in the life of a brother or sister, you must sacrificially give.  That’s why we add to our definition of love: treating all with respect, and out of our abundance meeting needs, we add, “at the cost of personal sacrifice.”  We love out of gratitude for what God has done for us.

 We love out of gratitude, it is a reasonable act of worship. Loving others is giving glory to God.  Praise, honor, reverence resulting from love’s action speaks louder than words. What we do speaks louder than what we say.  Loving others is how we say thank you to God for loving me.

In the Kingdom of God, nothing is coerced.  God has not predetermined your behavior, you get to choose.  You can choose to keep what has been given to you, what’s yours is yours, you can choose to give what is yours away to help another. Anytime you take that which is yours and give it in aid to another you have made a sacrifice.  When you sacrifice time, talent, treasure, position you are doing the same thing Jesus did.  When it's not your job to empty the trash, run the vacuum, do the dishes, but you do because you want to encourage the person whose job it is, that’s a sacrifice of love.  When you sacrifice your rights that’s being like Jesus who teaches that our only right is to love.

Do you see the contrast between Cain who kills his brother and the love we are called to give to our brothers and sisters in Christ?  Love is our mandate. This kind of love demonstrates itself in deeds.  We’re not talking prayers and warm thoughts of well-being as good as they are, we’re talking giving our stuff to another, we’re talking about being part of the solution.

 When we refuse to love the original language, the Greek, graphically declares that we have locked (kleisei) ourselves away from the other. [“…turn a cold shoulder and do nothing…”1 John 3:17 (MSG)]  Recall that when Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation to disobey God, they covered themselves.  They hid their real self from each other, humanity became opaque, we no longer see the heart of the other.  In the 2009 film Avatar, the best line in the script is “I see you.”  Beyond the outer physical appearance, I see the heart, the soul, the person.  Love makes it possible to see and be seen.  Since God’s children are the conduits of God’s love to the world, others see God in you when you love.  Show no compassion for the other and you make God’s love disappear.   

Loving others doesn’t necessarily mean you like the one your loving on.  That sounds off in our culture today because the culture has tied love and feelings in an inseparable knot.  There will be brothers or sisters in Christ that you may not like, you may not like their personality, their opinions, their complaints.  There will be brothers or sisters in Christ that are exasperating, they never seem to mature in the faith,  they will say they want deliverance from a problem but then do everything they can to cling to the problem, repeating the same mistake over and over, taking the role of the victim.  There will be brothers or sisters in Christ always needing help, always taking, never giving, wanting the handout instead of the hand up.  There will be brothers and sisters that slander, gossip, exclude, there will be those that are rude, impolite, often at odds with others in the congregation, trying to garner support for their side, and to top it off, they are the one’s easily offended.  These types of brothers and sisters require extra grace to deal with. So prevalent unlikeable brothers and sisters in the Church that there is a label for them: EGR’s, --extra grace required.  It may be impossible to like an EGR, but adults in the faith are called to love on them.  When you do, disciple of Jesus, that is a sacrifice.

 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 One more thought:  When you love on someone, don’t expect anything in return.  Certainly, it's just polite for someone to say thank you when something is done for them.  Don’t expect it.  Certainly, the person I help will be grateful for the assistance.  Don’t expect it.  Certainly, the person helped will pay the kindness forward.  Don’t expect it.  Certainly, the person I helped will return the favor.  Don’t expect it.  In teaching His disciples Jesus said:

 Luke 6:35 (MSG) Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst.

 God uses you to build up, to encourage, to support, to give, to fulfill, and to work in the congregation.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit all you have to do to build a congregation of love is to love.  God has supplied everything for you to accomplish His will.  It’s your choice.  You decide if you will hold another in high regard.  You decide if you will allow the love you’ve received to cover over a multitude of immaturity your brothers and sisters.  You decide if you will help bear another person's burden.  You decide to sacrifice that the need of your EGR person is met.  You decide if someone is worthy of your time. 

 Don’t make God’s love which flows through your life to others disappears.

“True love works, it expresses itself in action” (Mark 13:34)  [Rick Williamson, 1,2, & 3 John New Beacon Bible Commentary, p.126]  John tells us, words are not enough, warm compassionate feelings are not enough,  What you do expresses love.  In the light, you are empowered to love.  Walking in the light you utilize that empowerment by doing tangible things, sure you should pray, and then put feet on those prayers, put hands on those prayers.  That’s the way you shine.  I want you in the light and I want you to shine.   


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