Daily Scripture Reading1 John 3

Verse of the Day – Ephesians 5:2
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Devotional Thoughts
1 John 3 begins by reminding us what a great love God has given us! He has loved us enough to adopt us as His children. This is no small love, for to fulfill this love in this way cost Him the life of His Son! Jesus was the price that God paid for us in demonstrating His love for us (Rom 5:8).

There are a few themes that John develops throughout this chapter and I want to quickly focus on two of them. Today we will see The Imperative of Love and The Outworking of Love.

The Imperative of Love

As we are commanded in the Scriptures to love (a decision of the will) and to walk in love (a way of life) we learn that Jesus told us that the greatest commandments God has given, the commands upon which the whole of the Bible rest, are both commands to love. The first and greatest is the command to love God with all that we are. The second is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

We see in fact that there is a way to distinguish between those who are lost and those who are saved. The children of God and the children of the devil are made manifest, that is, exposed out in the open for what they are, by two things. The lost man does not “practice righteousness” and he does not “love his brother.”

To practice righteousness is to walk rightly before God. It is more than actions, it is a way of life from the heart attitude to the way we make decisions and live our lives. The child of God does not habitually and constantly walk in unrighteousness. And loving our brother is plain forward enough. If we claim to love God but hate our brother we are liars and do no know the love of God! This is a basic and fundamental command that we are to love our brother.

Cain is given as an example of one who hated his brother and we are told that to hate our brother is the same as to have murdered him. Abiding hatred is not a fruit of the Spirit to be sure.

We know that we have passed from death to life if we love the brethren. This is more than just loving our family members. This is love for the church, for the Body of Christ. We are after all brothers and sisters, adopted by our Father through the greatest act of love ever witnessed in heaven or earth.

The Outworking of Love

We see God’s love proved and demonstrated in the death of Christ. And as a result we are to lay down our lives for others. Often we think that this means that we are willing to die for another. But that is not all that is included here. Surely it is noble to be ready and willing to die for Christ or to die for a fellow believer or family member. This is to be expected of every believer.

The difficulty is found in seeing that the true outworking of love is not dying for someone, it is dying to self! It is to deny self, talking up our cross and following Jesus. It is esteeming all others as better than our self.

The true test of whether or not we love is found in 1 John 3:17. This is a frightening verse. It proves just how much we really do or do not love the body of Christ, our brethren, and that is frightening because an evidence of salvation is found in whether or not we love this way. The verse reads:

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

We understand that we in the body are responsible to take care of each other. If a fellow member of the Body of Christ has a need we are expected, commanded, and empowered to deny ourselves and do or give whatever it takes to meet needs. Let this sink in. The Bible asks us how we can be saved and how we can be a Christian if we see a fellow believer in need and refuse to help in any and every way that we are able.

As we have studied, the love of God was evident in the lives of the believers in the church at Philippi because when they heard that the Apostle Paul had a need, they sent him a generous gift. The most amazing fact here is not that they sent a gift. It is that they had great needs themselves and yet still collected and sent a considerable gift to Paul. They gave even out of their lack. They went without so that he would have his needs met.

We live in the lap of luxury and often forget how to really give. Giving is not an afterthought. It is not easy. True Biblical giving is an outworking of love. We give ourselves first (2 Cor 8:5) and then we give willingly, generously, sacrificially, and cheerfully (2 Cor 8:1-7; 9:6-7).

Giving is not only financial by the way. It is giving love, attention, counsel, encouragement. It is giving of our time and our energy. It is giving ourselves to others.

Remember, so often we think we have done our duty in giving, but how we give reveals how we love and how we love reveals whether or not we know God. It is not just about duty or habit. It is about how we demonstrate our love for Christ and His Bride.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

The Essential Second and Words to the Wealthy
by John MacArthur

Bible Reading For Further Study
2 Cor 8:1-7; 9:6-7
1 Corinthians 13

Recommended Songs for Worship
Hail, Sovereign Love
Through Midnight Gloom