Love One Another, Pt. 1
1 John 3:11-24
January 26, 2014
It’s a story I’ve told before, but it’s a good one…
Paul Tripp has written of himself —
“When I got married, I did what every other groom does. I repeated vows to my wife that said I would love her sacrificially all the days of my life. Who was I kidding? I look back and see how little I understood what I promised. What I was really thinking, to a large degree, was, This is great! I love me and now you are going to love me! My love was very shallow. It only took a few days of marriage to figure that out! God had plans to use my wife and children to show me just how shallow my love was and to help it deepen as I saw how much I needed to grow. Seeing this caused me to depend on God and his grace all the more.” [Lane and Tripp, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, 151-152.]
His story affirms at least two things — understanding the nature of love is important, and secondly, many of us have an inadequate understanding and definition of love.
But understanding what love is, is not only important for marriages; it is important for all relationships and it is especially important for relationships in the church body, as John has noted in his first letter:
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)
John’s statement, “anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God” won’t receive many arguments. It seems self-evident. But then some might ask, “but what does righteousness look like?” “Well,” John says, “it’s not as difficult as you might imagine — an obvious demonstration of righteousness is a believer loving his fellow believer.”
That had to be as startling a statement in the early church as it is today — if we don’t love other believers it indicates that we are not of God. Wow.
That’s a big statement that is begging for more explanation and discussion, which is exactly what John then does, beginning in verse 11 and going through the end of the chapter (and then picking it up again in the middle of chapter 4). Here is John’s main assertion in these verses —
An essential evidence of our life in Christ is our love for one another.
What does this kind of love look like and do? John makes six assertions about love in the body of Christ in verses 11-15 — this is what believers can expect to do, what they can expect not to do, and how they can expect to be received by the world.
What can we say about loving each other in the body of Christ? We can say —
- An Old Command for All Christians (vv. 10b-11)
- What a Loving Christian Is Not (v. 12)
- What the World Thinks of Loving Christians (v. 13)
- What a Loving Christian Is (v. 14a)
- What a Loving Christian Does (v. 14b)
- What a Loving Christian Does Not Do (v. 15)