February 20. 1 John 3:11-24
Happy Saturday! Today, we continue with John's firm words on how a Christian ought to live. I think the key verse of this section would be 1 John 3:18. "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." John does not want church attenders to pay lip service to belief but show no evidence of that belief in their lives. We need to walk the walk, don't we?
He is very clear that there ought to be no hatred toward another in the heart of a Christian. Have you ever been there, though? So wounded and so betrayed that hate and bitterness started to fester in your heart? Be encouraged by John's words, not discouraged. This is written so we might identify that the feeling of hatred needs to go. It's not a feeling we should welcome and nurture and feed. Might we need help and time and space in order to learn a better way? Oh yes. Is God patient and merciful and helpful when we ask for help and forgiveness? Most definitely. Even if you have to whisper ten times or more a day to the Lord, "Help me to love ____ like you love ____, hating what they did but wanting them to be all You created them to be, Lord!" ... keep going to Him and asking for help. Don't let it linger. In the end, hatred poisons the hater.
John is also very clear that we are to meet the needs of those around us. " 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" (1 John 3:17)? Let's meet the needs of those God places in our paths, to the best of our abilities. And let's definitely ask for soft hearts that break for others' hurts and defeats. You know, John is basically telling us that our hearts need to be right. We need to have hearts tender to the Spirit, listening to Him and asking for help when we fail. Let's guard against a hardened heart. Proverbs 4:23 emphasizes that this is extremely important: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Look at the language there: Above all else. That's how important it is to have a heart yielded to the One we serve!
My verse: 1 John 3:23 "And this is my commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us."
My response: Here John is once again speaking the heart of the gospel message. Help me to let the word, "must" penetrate, Lord. I must believe and I must love. Not optional. No wiggle room. Lord, I do believe and I do want to love You and others, more and more! Please help me.