Summary: John shows us another way we can analyze if we or others in the church are doing well in our Christian walk - love.
This is a true story. Paul and William decided that they really wanted to become godly men. So they started meeting with one another to pray and encourage one another; they even set goals for themselves and their behavior, and were accountable to each other.
At one point Paul decided that he wanted to break his habit of using profanity. He decided he was going to put five dollars in the offering for every time he swore during the week. To stay accountable, he would tell his friend William how many times he’d failed. The first week cost Paul $100. Now, Paul must’ve been doing ok financially, because that didn’t stop his swearing. In fact, while he improved somewhat over the next couple weeks, he really wasn’t having the success he wanted and was losing more and more money every week.
After the fourth week, William told Paul he had decided that the deal needed to be changed for the coming week, but he wasn’t going to tell Paul how it would change. He just said, “Trust me. It will cost you both less and more.”
When they met the following Sunday before worship, Paul admitted he had failed again. William put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Paul, I told you this was going to cost you both less and more. It’s called grace." William took out his checkbook, and made out a check to the church, leaving the amount blank. He gave the check to Paul and said, "Your sin still costs, but for you it’s free. Just fill in the numbers, and next week there will be more grace."
William’s grace cost $55 the first week; the second only cost $20. There was no third week. Paul couldn’t bear to see what his sin was costing his friend, so he quit using profanity.
What we as Christians believe matters a great deal, how we live as Christians, reveals who we really are.
John continues in his thoughts on faith here in the book of first John. Right here he sets out some practical conditions for living our faith. John asks us do we love others in the church or do we not love others in the church. Love is evidence of our faith, whereas absence of love is evidence of our lack of faith.
We have seen John teach us three very valuable things concerning our faith so far: First our faith is placed in a person and not in a concept or a philosophical theory - and that person we place our faith in is Jesus Christ; Second we also saw that confession of our sins helps us maintain our relationship with God as it is a reality check, we truly need God to be a righteous people; Third we also found that one of the ways we can know that we are indeed believers, indeed Christians is that we take the sin in our lives seriously, we don’t make excuses for our sin, we recognize our sin, we are concerned about our sin and deal with it before God.
Today, John shows us another way we can analyze if we or others in the church are doing well in our Christian walk - love.
John starts off in verse 7 by stating that he is writing about an old command, a command that was there from the beginning and it is a command that has been heard. Many of the believers in the church had been around for a life time and everyone of them was very familiar with John - they knew what command John was referring to here: John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This would be a teaching this church would know from the onset, and they would know it so well that John only has to ‘the command’ and everyone knows it is the command of love.
Previously, in the last few verses John has been saying the plural, the commands of God - but now John summarizes all the commandments into one in the singular, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love is the summation of all commands - this is an old message that they have heard, and lived with for years.
But now in verse 8, John tells us this old command is new. How is this command both old and new at the same time? This is an old command as it goes all the way back to the time of Moses, Lev. 19:18 “ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
So it is an old command, in the sense that God had commanded it years before, and it is also an old command because the congregation members have heard it for years, yet it is a new command also. It is a new command in two ways: First this command of love was realized and lived out by Jesus Christ and second, it is a new command as we are to expected to love as Jesus loved. It is new as we are also expected to love as Jesus loved.