Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Importance of Love

The Heart of All of Things: Part 2

Love is a major theme that runs through the book of 1 John. Love is the idea that is the foundation to the Apostle’s comments in 1 John 3:11-24. In this passage John tells us the importance love plays in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. This is what he wrote:
11 This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous. 13 So do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love one another. The person who does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. 16 This is how we have come to know love: Christ gave his life for us. We, too, ought to give our lives for our brothers. 17 Whoever has earthly possessions and notices a brother in need and yet withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God remain in him? 18 Little children, we must stop loving in word and in tongue, but instead love in action and in truth. 19 And this is how we will know that we belong to the truth and how we will be able to establish our hearts in his presence. 20 If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God. 22 Whatever we request we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The person who keeps his commandments abides in God, and God abides in him. This is how we can be sure that he remains in us: he has given us his Spirit. (ISV)


For us to live lives of love we need to keep in mind three elements of love.

1. The first element of love is the importance of love.
11 This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous. 13 So do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love one another. The person who does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. (1 John 3:11-15)

In verse 10 John writes: This is how God's children and the devil's children are distinguished. No person who fails to practice righteousness and to love his brother is from God (1 John 3:10; ISV). John goes on to say: This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another (v. 11, ISV). From the very beginning we have heard this message. It is the foundation of the Old Testament and the central message of Jesus. To love God and to love people are the two great commandments of the follower of Jesus Christ.

John starts by providing us with a negative example of love. Do not be like Cain…John writes. Every family, from the very first family, has problems. While every family has problems, we are still shocked when those problems get so bad that they result in a brother murdering his brother. Yet that is the example of Cain who murdered his brother Able because of Able’s righteousness.

The Bible is not very clear on what made Cain’s actions evil. We assume that it has something to do with sacrifice that he offered and that he wasn’t willing to give God the best portion of his crop. What we do know is that what ever Cain did he was not ignorant of his wrong actions: he knew exactly what he was doing. And the blessings Able received from God only reminded Cain of his wickedness in disobeying God. Cain allowed jealousy and hatred to grow in his heart and the end result was that he took the life of his righteous brother Able.

Hatred and murder take life. They do not nurture life, but they take life from others. Have you ever experienced the hatred of family members? Maybe not personally, but you experienced it from a distance as an observer. Hatred always makes people miserable. The family members are forced to take sides and the joy and happiness that are supposed to define a family taken away. Where is the life?

Where is life? Life is found in loving people. John tells us: We know we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers (v. 14, NIV). This is the key verse of this entire section, if not the entire book. We know we have life because of love. We have compassion for our neighbors, spend time with our family, and we help our friends. Life is found in our love. You want to know if you have eternal life, then follow your love.

If we don’t have love then we don’t have life. Hate, which in its most extreme form leads to murder, is mere indifference in its weakest form. It is giving help to people who are need when you have the means to help them because you are in essence robbing life from them. It is taking time to pray for people we can’t help, but who are in desperate need. Indifference is the opposite of compassion, which is the main ingredient of love.

What is the importance of love? The importance of love is that it reveals whether or not we have true everlasting life flowing through our veins.

  • Point to Ponder: Love reveals whether or not we have true everlasting life flowing through our veins.
  • Passage to Remember: 1 John 3:11-15
  • Question to Consider: What can how you love tell you about your life?

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