Wednesday, May 31, 2017

REAL LOVE


1 John 3:10-23 is a long passage with a common theme—

love your brother.


Of course, the reference is to your believing brother, those people of both genders who share the same faith as you. (Not that you don't love your natural brother or sister.)
"So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God." (1Jo 3:10 NLT) (emphasis added)
Why was this thought placed in the scriptures? 

  • Is it possible to claim to love God and NOT love other believers
  • Is it possible to live righteously and not love God?

Yes, it IS possible. 

I find it interesting that in this entire passage on brotherly love, "philadelphia" is not used. "Agape" is the consistent word for love in this section. (Differences between "agape" and "phileo" were dealt with in a previous article.)

If we were to consider only this passage, we would be left with our own understanding of what this love looks like. Unfortunately, many today do just that. Trying to learn what the Word of God says about things is not necessary for these, and that's a shame.

As a result, we are left with what some previous giants in the faith have referred to as "sloppy agape." The phrase is obviously pejorative, for it does not describe a love with limits or boundaries, and the love described in scripture is not so.

Without going into ALL the Bible has to say about love, and not even touching on the "Love Chapter" of 1 Corinthians 13, I will limit our discussion to what is revealed in the passage under consideration—1 John 3:10 - 23.

The first thing pointed out that does not qualify for the "love" column is jealousy or envy. (1 Jn. 3:12)

Jealousy leads one to become a murderer. While it may not be consummated in the physical act of taking a life, we must not forget that Jesus raised the bar for murder to being angry and resorting to the "character assassination" of name-calling. (Matt. 5:21-22)

When one believer publicly calls another believer a hypocrite, is this not what Jesus was referring to? If it is, then regardless of the claim to loving the other, the reality is that murder has occurred, and murder comes from hate.
"Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them." (1Jo 3:15 NLT)
Name-calling, labeling, character assassination in any form is a dangerous exercise not to be taken lightly. It is dangerous to engage in, and when someone does, we must examine carefully the accuracy of their claim. If it proves to be false, then we have a possible indication that person is not a believer.

The next thing pointed to as an obvious lack of love is the closing off of compassion as expressed in action. That action is described here as "laying down your life" for others.
"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." (1Jo 3:16 NLT)
John then goes on to give a practical example or illustration of what "laying down your life" might look like.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (1Jo 3:17 NIV)
Every translation except the NLT mentions simply being in possession of something. Abundance is not necessarily the criteria.

In other words, if you have a coat and you see someone who does not, give them your coat. THAT is laying down your life or what has been termed "death to self," which was written about here with many other illustrations of what that may look like for you.

Therefore, as we "examine ourselves to see if our faith is genuine" (2 Cor. 13:5) by the love we profess, the sum total is—
"Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." (1Jo 3:18 NLT)
 Let your love be something that is seen more than claimed.
"Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God." (1Jo 3:19 NLT)
Then you can know that you have eternal life.

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