10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3:10 NIV
While running one night, I listened to the complete book of 1 John – all five chapters. I lost count of how often the word “love” was used. (Update – one account says the derivative of the word agape is used 51 times in 1 John). 1 John 3:10 made me pause and think.
So much emphasis is made on obeying and disobeying God’s commands. We watch the news each night and see sin, greed, murder, lying, cheating, abuse of bodies, and sexual misconduct. Sadly, many of these are found deeply entrenched in church life. This type of conduct is easy to spot as disobedient life choices.
We make a mental checklist and judge ourselves as innocent of many of these types of sinful actions. But what about loving our brothers and sisters? How do we measure up to expressing endless love to them?
Loving your brothers and sisters includes…
- No gossiping. Words are never neutral…they either give life or death. Gossiping falls into the judging category. We love when we bless; we curse when we gossip. When did you last allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of gossiping about someone else?
- Extend forgiveness. Others see God’s love at work when we choose to forgive others. We may be fully justified in not forgiving them, as many people would agree with you. There is no time limit on extending forgiveness. We cancel their behavior against us again and again.
- Reject envy and jealousy. These are mental and emotional sins that no one else may know you are carrying. Although I believe your words will eventually expose the attitudes within the heart. Both of these are rooted in a lack of gratitude for all God has given you. Bless others who have prospered in ways that you have not. Ask God to forgive you for wrong choices that have led you not to have the material things you desire. Blessing, giving thanks, and giving your stuff away are three ways to combat envy and jealousy.
- Say I love you. As mentioned, the Apostle John uses the word love again and again. Our actions toward one another should agree with our words of love for them (Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8). Our spoken words should also communicate our love for them…all the brothers and sisters. Could you imagine God showing His love for us but not using the words for us? Jesus clearly said that God so loved the world – you, me, and all the brothers and sisters. People need to hear you say…”I love you;” it lets them know God loves them too.
Ask God to expand your horizon of love for more and more people. You will have to forgive. You may notice some personal attitudes that God will need to help you correct. Division in our world is a lack of true love from God. Yes, the devil is at work. But our local churches could use a good dose of Holy Spirit love as found in the fruit He is growing in our lives.
Loving others is counterculture to the get back, get even attitudes surrounding us. Yet, it is possible to express love even when our feelings may be running in the opposite direction. I read a plaque the other day which fits this idea of spreading love – “Kindness is free, so sprinkle that stuff everywhere you go.”
Blessings Love y’all