Last week we looked at the previous passage that used very strong language to lalk about God’s over-the-top love for us and our response to that love being holiness and obedience. He ends with the verse “Those who do not what is right are not God’s children; nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.”
This is a segue into a great talk about the love that is supposed to be between Christians>
Read passage here.
Do Not Hate, But Instead, Love One Another"
1. Do not be like Cain vvs. 12-15
story of Cain and Abel - Cain raised vegetables, Abel livestock, both made a sacrifice to God of their produce, but Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s rejected. We are not told why, but there is a hint that Abel sacrificed the best he had, while cain made an offereing of whatever he had on hand.
Cain is not happy with the situation, becomes jealous, hates his brother, and finally murders him. Why does he murder him? - because Abel was righteous and Cain’s disobedience was shown up by Abel’s righteousness..
John give this sideline note telling us to not be surprised if the world hates you for your righteousness. – when we make righteous decisions while they are making wrong choices, they feel judged.
John says – “Don’t be like Cain”
"I’m not like Cain, I’ve never murdered anyone!"
Jesus raises the bar -
21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ’You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ’Raca, ’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who says, ’You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
- Have you ever hated anyone?
Hatred = Murder
"you cannot hate and have eternal life in you"
- We like to play with words - "I don’t hate her, I just don’t like to be around her..." Basically it’s an excuse so that we do not have to change our ways and repent.
John leaves us no room - we either hate each other or Love each other. He never says it’s OK just to dislike each other.
Jesus goes on in Matthew’s Gospel to talk about the importance of our relationship with others in regards to our relationship with God
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to that person; then come and offer your gift.
God wants our reconciliation with our brothers and sisters more than he wants our offerings!
Do not be like Cain: don’t be murderous or hateful toward those in your church.
2. Be like Christ vs. 16-18
Love = self sacrifice
"Most people associate Christianity with the command to love, and so they think that they know all about Christianity when they have understood its teachings in terms of their own concept of love."
-I. Howard Marshall
So we hear people say "if you really loved me, you would do this..."
Instead of letting us rely on our own twisted definitions of love, he give us some pictures of love so that we might know what love really is.
"LAYS DOWN THEIR LIFE"
Picture of the cross:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Christ Died that we might have life
Picture of the good shepherd:
``I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 NIV)
Picture of a shepherd who sleeps at the gate of the fold so that any danger will come first to him. Or one that fights with wild animals and thieves to protect the sheep under his care.
We all would like to think that we would perform such acts of heroism, and we most likely would for those we truly love, but then John brings it down from the idealism of martyrdom to practical daily life:
Love = personal sacrifice
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
What is the greatest command - Love God, and love your neighbour.
Who is my neighbour? - the one who has a need that I can meet.
Not just material needs - single mom with no time to spend with God - two old ladies show up at her door to look after the children for an hour so that she can have her devotions.