#TuesdayDevotion: Characterized by LOVE!
Date: 7th December 2020
We are in a season of love, joy and peace and today’s devotion-passage fits in well for this. Even as I have been reading the Epistles of John, I understand that Love is a major theme in 1, 2, and 3 John. You could go as far as to say that John believes love is THE distinguishing mark of a Christian. God showed us His love by sending Christ. Jesus showed His love by giving His life for us.
John begins this teaching by exploring the relationship between love and hatred, John refers, of course, to the ancient and familiar story of the brothers Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:2-8) Cain was angry and jealous that God favors the sacrifice of his righteous brother Abel. In a fit of jealousy Cain slays Abel. God created Adam and Eve to be a blessing, but the couple hindered and blamed each other, for committing the first sin. Next, their children hated and killed each other. Then came generations that rebelled and disobeyed God. Laws of God were rejected and disobeyed. God had to take the decision to do it differently.
So, God created a new family in Christ—His church. “Christ-like love” is the spiritual DNA marker now; love is the language we as God’s children are taught, from the time we are dead to sin, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11)
It was God’s love that made us His children (1 John 3:1), and the most wonderful and most challenging truth is this, unlike Cain, we need to respond in love where there is hatred!
No one can rightly claim God as their Father when they fail to love His children, whoever they maybe! We are dead to sin, and are alive to God in Christ. Indeed “we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers”. Conversely, each act of love deepens our confidence that we have “eternal life abiding” in us (3:14 &15).
Love is exquisitely defined by John, he writes, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (3:16). The ultimate was laying down His life because of HIS LOVE FOR US. Practically, there is nothing more that Jesus could have done to validate that love! God so loved us that He had to give His one and only Son to die that painful death, so we can experience grace and enjoy eternal life. He chose to demonstrate the love.
Yes, love must go beyond “word and talk” into practical “deeds” (3:18). We ought to open our eyes to see the needs of people around us, it is the only way we can show and know that “God abides in us” (3:17). Expressing genuine, practical love for God’s family is what identifies you and me as God’s child.
In James 2: 15-17 we read, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
This is the most natural thing that love can do; this is loving "with actions and in truth" (3:18).
However, once the mind understands Christ-like love, the conscience begins to wrestle with whether we are doing the right thing every now and then. I am amazed how John thought of this, like a crisis of guilt, our heart condemns us sometimes. John is telling us that when we live the way God tells us to, we aren’t riddled with guilt. “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (3:19-20) What a confidence we have in HIM, that He knows EVERYTHING!
We don’t always measure up to God’s standards, but we do have this confidence and that when we obey and please Him, the most basic being, loving others like the way Christ loves us, then, we can be assured we will receive anything we ask Him. Furthermore, “the one who keeps God’s commands lives in Him, and He in them”. We can know that God lives in us by the evidence of the “Holy Spirit within us” (3:24).
Let love be the hallmark of our lives as we continue to follow Christ.
I thank Thee, Lord, today, for Your unfailing presence. I pray that we would be so in tune to the great love of God at work in us and around us. I’m so thankful for your love, a love that left THE throne, to come down just to save me. I pray that I would hear Your whisper of love each and every single day, through all the noise of this world. Transform me Lord, so I can show this love you have shown unto me, to others too. Remind me of ways I can demonstrate love to someone who needs it, especially in this season of celebrating your birth.
Fulfill in me the perfect purpose that you created me for.
In Jesus name. Amen.