John has explained the difference between those who are children of God and those who are not, and goes into great detail about the practice of righteousness and the practice of sin (see 1 John 3:4-10 and yesterday’s post about this).
BUT THEN, John, inspired by God, adds a short, but tremendously important, phrase “nor is he who does not love his brother.” (1 John 4:10)
Nor is he, who does not love his brother, a child of God.
Wow! That’s a pretty sobering statement!
We shouldn’t be so quick to consider ourselves a child of God if we don’t love our brother.
Over and over in Scripture, and right here in this letter, God tells us that “we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).
Friend, we don’t get to hate anyone.
Nope. Not anyone.
Regardless of what they’ve done or are doing to us. If we wear the Name of Christ, we can’t practice, walk in, be okay with, the sin of not loving someone else.
John goes on to explain that we shouldn’t be shocked when the world hates us as Christians (1 John 3:13) ; but we should be shocked if we, as Christians, aren’t loving others.
Love is absolutely fundamental to who we are in Christ.
Jesus told us, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 22:37-40)
John explains, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”(1 John 3:16-18)
Love is not just a feeling but compels our feet to move forward in action.
“And by this” (as we love others)”we know we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before Him.” (1 John 3:19).
Again, how can I know if I’m a child of God? I not only practice righteousness and flee sin, I am compelled to love others in deed and in truth.
I don’t keep the love of Christ to myself and only hang out in my holy huddle with those who are easy to love, but I pursue relationships with others, even others who aren’t so easy to love or who may have hurt me, so they may know the love of Christ, too.
Friends, they will know us by our love.