“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16
The book of 1 John is written to challenge and encourage the believers to test their lives and KNOW that they are In Christ. As a result of this aim it provides many tangible ways that we can KNOW that Christ lives in us and this idea of loving the brothers is a central measurement.
Those born of God are characterized by love. 1 John 3:1- “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God and so we are.” Children of God are different from the world in that they have received the love of the Father. This great love that we are called to abide in and give to one another is not something that we find deep within ourselves or manufacture on our own. This love is merely a giving of what we have received from the Father, His great love for us. A love that saw the hopelessness of our position, being dead in our sins and in need of a Savior, in need of someone to take the penalty of death on our behalf. A love that caused Him to send Jesus, His perfect Son, the exact physical representation of God to live a perfect life, the WORD of God made physical so that we would see the Father. A love that accepted Jesus’s death on the cross as the complete and satisfactory payment for the sins of the entire world and then who raised Him to life again defeating the power of sin and death once and for all by the blood of CHRIST. A love that invites us into relationship with Him through the blood of Christ. When we accept Christ’s blood as payment for our sins and stand before the Lord in confidence knowing that Jesus is ENOUGH for us and able to make a way for relationship with the Father we ABIDE in this love. This is the love that we must first come to know, receiving from the Father this outrageous and undeserved, all consuming love that He has lavished upon us. And as we walk alongside our brothers, this is the love that the believer will pour out to others. Not a kindness, or a well wishing for others based on feelings, but rather a deep, abiding love rooted in the grace that is ours in Christ.
In this place of KNOWING the love of the Father we see a sharp contrast to this love in verse 14 which is especially stunning, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” These words brought my reading to a full stop and then I read them again, and again and again. There is no in between. Abide is a word with such intention, such purpose, so active. The Greek word for abide is μένω ménō and the definition follows: to sojourn or tarry, not to depart, to be held, to be kept continually. Who would chose to abide in death? Yet we either ABIDE in love, the love the Father has lavished upon us, the love that caused Him to lay down His life for us, or we ABIDE in death. Death signifies separation from God. In this case the choice to abide in death is to tarry in, not depart from, be kept continually in a place apart from God.
So this choice, between abiding in death or abiding in life and the testimony of abiding in life and having received the love of the Father is our relationship with others. It’s one thing to profess love for a perfect God, the One Who saved us and redeemed us as His own but things become real very quickly when we are faced with imperfect people. When another believer offends us, or wrongs us, forgets our needs or is insensitive, are we ABIDING in the love of the Father? Do we extend the love of the Father? Do we remember the love of the Father that He lavished on us for salvation and continues to lavish upon us?
I am challenged and encouraged by the Scripture we are studying this week to take stock of my own heart and to DWELL, tarry, not depart, be held, and sojourn in the love the Father has given to me. Because when I ABIDE in His love, it overflows into every relationship in my life and He receives the glory.
See y’all Wednesday at 6:00!