Fourth Sunday of Easter (April 22, 2018)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
1 John 3:16-24 New Living Translation (NLT)
I’m preaching from another section in 1 John this weekend…our series is called “Love Illuminated.” If you think about it – love and light are the themes of 1 John. You will also find those themes in John’s gospel. In John 3:16, Jesus tells us this:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
In 1 John 3:16, we have these words…”We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” Now – yes – I realize that the chapter and verses were added long after these books were written, but I love the parallels. John is encouraging us to walk in the Light as Christ is in the light. Christ is our great example. Here John tells us that Jesus gave up his life for us and out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we ought to give up our lives for them. He goes on to say, “If we see a brother or sister in need and have no compassion, how can God’s love be in us?” Wow! that is convicting stuff.
John tells us not to just say that we love each other, but that we should truly show it – it should come out in our actions. This is real love. It is a love that is lived out – it is not just words. These words sound similar to James (1:22): “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourself.” John tells us that our actions will show that we belong to the truth.
Interestingly enough, we say that love isn’t a feeling – it’s so much more than that. Sometimes our feelings get in the way. In some ways, love is a feeling and John reminds us that there are times that we won’t feel much like love – sometimes we may have more guilt than anything. But we need to ask God to help us in these cases – to give us wisdom to show us the way.
So if we have real love for each other, it will show up in our actions. John tells us that Jesus commands us to love one another and obey his commandment. What is that? Believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as was commanded and Jesus is our great example.
If we obey his commandments – we stay in fellowship with God – and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And when we do that the Holy Spirit abides in us so that we can continue to live in love.