1 John 3:11-17
Love One Another
11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 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.
16 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. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
As John continues to distinguish between true and false teaching, and what it looks like to know God, he turns to another indicator. This is not a new message, but at the heart of the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments deal with love of God, and the next seven deal with love of neighbor. The assumption is our love for each other, is predicated on the love we have received from God.
And if this is true, the opposite is as well. When someone doesn't love his brother the love of God is not in him. In the extreme case of Cain, he was jealous of his brother's sacrifice, and killed him. Not only did he not love him, he hated him. And if hate is fueled by the evil one, then when someone in their hate murders someone, they are not of God, but of the evil one. When we say "of" we mean under the influence of, or from the source of. To the contrary, love has its source in God and specifically Jesus, who showed God's love by dying on the cross.
So in the context, John is showing that obedience is most clearly shown in the love of a brother or sister. Then, he takes another step, and shows practically what this love looks like in action. When someone has ample means and sees a brother or sister in need and does nothing to help them, how can the love of God be in them? If God reached down when we were in need and used his riches to show us mercy, how can the love of God be in us if we willfully neglect someone in need.
So if showing love to one another is the clearest indicator of our relationship with God, how are we doing? How are you doing? We don't always do the good thing God asks us to do. This is why we confess our sins on Sunday by saying, "we confess the things we have done, and the things we have left undone". A lot of times the sin we focus on is what we do wrong. But, we often don't talk about sins of "omission". We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. He didn't leave anything undone. And this will be a sign that we have passed from death to life.