We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers and sisters. Whoever does not love abides in death. 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 3:14, 16-18
John makes several statements in his book that have to do with figuring out whether you really have passed from death to life, or that you have Jesus. I have been in settings throughout my life that urge people to simply pray a prayer, commonly known as the sinner’s prayer, and that is the proof that you are now a Christian. In 1 John, John never mentions a prayer. Rather, he mentions keeping God’s commandments, not practicing sin, and having love for others as ways to know that Jesus is really at work in our life.
Today’s verses are tough ones. I gulp as I read them because I have a letter sitting next to me from someone who habitually asks for money. I have left the letter sit, not quite knowing how to proceed. I struggle with the adage, “If you give a man a fish…” I want her to learn to fish and not be dependent. Yet, this says if I have the world’s goods, which I do, then I can’t close my heart against her. I can’t say I love God and not be generous when and where I can.
John also says in chapter 3 that we can’t hate anyone if we are a Jesus follower. Are there people that you change walking routes if you see them coming? I must confess that I do that occasionally. It is time to examine my heart. John asks the question, “How does God’s love abide in us?” That is a good question to let rattle around in our heads.
How does God’s love abide in us? In my job I can get so jaded by the demands of people, which as a principal includes kids, teachers and parents. I have many people manipulating, blaming, making excuses, calling me many expletives and even sueing. I can sit stoically while someone on the other side of my desk cries, usually in an attempt to control me. I get it when Jesus said we are “to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” in Matthew 10:16.
Yet I must find a way to keep God’s love in my heart. And I must keep a passion for His kingdom and His glory to fuel me. I’m guessing your workplace and living space encounters aren’t much different, though the details may vary. There are some passion fuelers that we need to make a consistent part of our lives:
- Have consistent time in God’s Word and in prayer. It has to be complete with a “so what?” question, that leads to application. Our love for God, and our ability to be equipped for every good work, comes through getting grounded and centered by Him. Jesus had to go away and pray to the Father, and consistently went to the ‘lonely places’ to do so. If He needed it, so do we.
- Following the model of passionate saints. I love biographies of missionaries and of people who have done great things for God. I find that the writings of those who lived before the 1970’s (just a ballpark date) to have a stronger metal that we do now. My all time favorites include biographies of Jim Ellliot and the other four men who gave their lives in Ecuador, Amy Carmichael, David Brainerd, Gladys Aylward and Dr. Helen Roseveare.
- Worship music. You have to weed through some of the Christian music that is a little too ‘me’ centered, but there are great songs of the faith that can fuel your passion for God and passion for others.
- Find people who need Jesus to minister to. One time I was giving a talk on Matthew 22:29, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Someone asked how they could get their kids to not tune out to the Bible, Sunday School or church because they think they know all of those stories. Ya da, ya da, ya da. My quick response, so quick that I think it was from God, was to suggest that they go as a family to find people who haven’t heard about Jesus and minister to them. Having the opportunity to tell women in jail about Jesus and the good news of forgiveness and peace with God fuels my passion. Ask God to lead you to someone, and He will.
Back to our verses for today, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18. May God’s love and your passion for Him fuel you today.
*Image from The Bear and the turtle – wordpress.com