Thoughts for the Week
THE TEST OF LOVE
(1 John 3:11-24)
WHY DID JESUS DIE?
As humans we do not perceive the spiritual realm and its realities
well at all. So that presented God with a "problem" -- how to
reveal to us the love He has always had for us. His solution was
to *do* something. Since doing and living are inseparable, we
could also say that God's solution was to *live* His love for us.
Because Jesus wanted me to see clearly His love for me, He died
for me. Notice what 1 John 3:16 says -- "Hereby perceive we the
love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought
to lay down our lives for the brethren." Imagine that! Had He
not put our lives ahead of His own, we could not have known
His love for us.
Furthermore, He gave His life so that we might have an example
to follow in our relationships with others. The conclusion of that
verse tells us how to make our own love perceptible to others.
To show my love for others I must live it by putting their best
ahead of my own.
That meshes so well with Ephesians 5:2 -- "Walk in love, as
Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us." Jesus
valued me enough to put my best interests ahead of His own life.
And that's how He wants His people to live on this planet:
revealing love through sacrificial living.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that
God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might
live through him" (1 John 4:9). God demonstrated His love by
paying a high price for the purpose of blessing us. Without that
demonstration, we could not even know about His love. To show
my love for others I must live for *their* blessing, not my own.
MEASURING LOVE FOR GOD
Ruby (she's my wife!) was sewing a dress a day or so ago . . .
and used a tape measure to measure the fabric. A few weeks ago
she made Christmas treats . . . and poked a candy thermometer
in the gooey stuff to keep track of its temperature. Several weeks
ago I wanted to know my weight . . . so I stood on the bathroom
scales. We, like you, use other types of instruments to determine
various kinds of measurements. But how shall we measure a
commodity such as love?
"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Jesus
communicates with us using such directness and simplicity,
doesn't He! He leaves no ambiguity in His message: Measuring
love is as simple as measuring obedience. The extent of my
obedience determines the extent of my love. The process is no
more complicated than that.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth me" (John 14:21). To seek out, treasure, and obey His
commandments -- that reveals and proves love. This verse brings
out an additional vital dimension to obedience and love. Those
who love God do not rest in their present understanding and
obedience. No! They have the disposition and drive of an
explorer, of a learner. They strive to deepen and expand their
knowledge of God's will because they wish to extend the scope
of their obedience. In other words, they want to know more so
they can obey more . . . because they want to love more. They
read and listen, study and meditate, search and research -- not to
acquire knowledge for its own sake, but to acquire knowledge
for the sake of obedience.
"If a man love me, he will keep my words" (John 14:23). After
giving the teaching He did, Jesus could guide His audience to
that obvious conclusion. Those who love Him, obey Him. The length
and depth of the one measures the length and depth of the other.
"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments" (2 John
6). OK. I think I've got the message now. That is, I do
intellectually. My life and actual obedience will show whether
I've truly gotten the message.
ANOTHER LOVE-MEASURING TOOL
"He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he
love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20). The obvious
answer to this rhetorical question is, "He can't!" We can measure
our love for God by our love for our fellowman. To put it
another way, I love God no more than I love the person I love
the least. The next verse goes beyond a rhetorical question to an
outright order: "And this commandment have we from him, That
he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:21). Now we
have made a full circuit back to the first tool for measuring our
love for God. Will we obey, or not?
LOVE: PROOF OF LIFE
We humans require proof and tangible reality before we can
experience assurance. That is true in many areas of our lives, but
let's focus particularly on the issue of salvation. "How can I
*know for sure* that I am saved?" has got to be one of the key
recurring questions in the church. Something as tangible and
experiential as baptism doesn't prove it. And if the experience doesn't
prove it, then a baptismal certificate certainly won't do it either.
So how then *can* we know we are saved?
Today's lesson reveals one very practical evidence of
regeneration: "We know that we have passed from death unto
life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). Forgiveness
frees us to love others. Redemption cleanses us from self and sin,
turning our focus from ourselves and thus enabling us to think
of and love others. Grace empowers us to love others. The Spirit
within us fills us with God's own love.
Our love for others give us the certainty that we are saved!
His Love to All