1 John 3:11, “ For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Before we dive into our study today of 1 John, let’s consider how so far, John has emphasized personal holiness and righteousness in this epistle. He has spoken of love (1 John 2:7-17), belief in the incarnation (1 John 2:18-27) but has also spent a significant amount of time addressing the need for Christian’s to live a holy and upright life before the face of God (1 John 1:5-2:6; 1 John 2:28-3:10).
In our last study, we considered the daily practicing of righteousness and how it is to be evident in every Christian. Not only is holiness a mark of all true Christians so is a love for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If we do not love fellow Christians, we are not God’s children (1 John 3:10).
In 1 John 3:11, John beings a lengthy section on love as the mark for the Christian. John speaks here in 1 John 3:11 to the need to love one another in the covenant community of faith. Loving God and one another has always been an essential mark of God’s people (Lev. 19:18; John 13:34).
Although John separates love and holiness in 1 John 3:10, he does not believe they are opposed. He does so, instead only for emphasis. God Himself is holy (Isaiah 6:3) and love (1 John 4:8). To practice righteousness is to obey the commandments of God (Psalm 1). Since, God commands Christians to love one another, and to be holy is to love fellow Christians, loving one another is part of loving God.
There is also a familial resemblance between God and His children. If Christians are to resemble their heavenly Father, they must love His people. After all, God Himself, out of love sent His Son to die for their sins (Romans 5:8). While we cannot atone for the sins of others, Christians are to love God’s people and even give up all they are, including our lives for them if necessary (1 John 3:16).
Every Christian is to love fellow Christians. The Lord’s command to love is not easy. At times, it will mean praying for that difficult person. At other times, it will mean buying a person you don’t like groceries all in Christian love and concern. It’s not only those people you like in the local church that you are to love. It’s the down and out, the marganizlied, the hurting, struggling. The single mom with two kids or more, working all week, and barely haven’t a moment to herself. The college student needing a friend. And the list goes on and on.
The Lord does not call us to love only those who are polite or even those who are our Reformed brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are to reflect God’s character, John’s point is, we are to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, just as God loved all His people. God forgives sinners and continues to love them, even, despite their struggle with sin, or station of life, and so we as His people must also. If you and a fellow Christian are at odds with each other, please do whatever you need to do, have a heart-to-heart conversation face to face if possible, or even over the phone if that’s not possible to bring healing to the relationship. We as Christians are to love God and love one another. Let us keep short accounts with God and then we will keep short accounts with one another and love one another intentionally and purposefully to the glory of the God of all grace.