Summary: Our efforts for the Lord will be futile without love. We know the Bible commands that we love one another, and yet we fail to fully heed the command. Our world needs to experience love in action, not just in word.
Putting our Love into Action
1 John 3: 11-17
Our text this evening continues to deal with the great theme of love that John has already dealt with extensively. I suppose there is no wonder John felt so impressed to emphasize love among the believers. He was blessed to walk with the Lord, studying His life and ministry, clearly seeing the love Jesus expressed to others. Jesus is the great example of love that each of us need to emulate. Jesus didn’t just speak of love, He exemplified love. He was moved with compassion as He witnessed the multitudes scattered as sheep without a shepherd. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, encouraged the lonely, and gave Himself on the cross for our sin. He gave His life so we might have life and have it more abundantly.
As we follow Jesus’ great example and seek to heed the words of John in the Scripture, we too must be willing to put our love into action. It is easy to talk of love. It is easy to express concern for the pressing needs of our day, but it is quite something else to be moved to action. Our love must not be limited to conversation; it must compel us to act! Let’s take a few moments to consider the challenges John speaks of as we think on: Putting our Love into Action.
I. The Exhortation for Love (11-13) – John exhorts the believer to love one another. His exhortation is:
A. A Timely Message (11) – For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Again this is nothing new; John isn’t sharing a message they have never heard. From their earliest encounter with the gospel and the beginning of their relationship with Christ, they had been encouraged to love one another. This is essential to the Christian faith. We cannot serve the Lord and please Him apart from love. Loving others accompanies salvation.
This remains a timely message for our day as well. Surely we all could love more, and in our day of self-indulgence and intolerance, love is certainly needed. We are never more like our Lord than when we love others. John 13:34 – A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
B. A Tested Message (12) – Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. The message of love and expectation associated with it were not new to John’s generation. This was not a new doctrine Jesus taught as He walked among men. The people of God were always expected to show His love toward others. That expectation wasn’t always honored however. It didn’t take long for love to be tested and even resisted. John reminds us of how Cain slew Abel in a moment of rage and anger. Abel showed love while Cain revealed the hatred within his heart. Cain despised his brother because Abel’s sacrifice was accepted in God’s eyes and his wasn’t.
Again we see that the heart is always revealed in time. What we possess within our hearts will eventually be revealed through our actions. One can know of love and understand God’s expectation for love, and yet refuse to love. Genuine love cannot be fabricated or imitated. It is either present within our hearts from Christ or not. We cannot offer what we do not possess!
C. A Tempered Message (13) – Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. John didn’t want believers to be ignorant of the evils of the day. Upon conversion the love of Christ fills our hearts. We are compelled to show that love because we belong to Him. However, not everyone will appreciate our love, and some will even hate us for our relationship with Christ. We can show love to all we meet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our love will be received or appreciated.
Really this should come as no surprise. Jesus is love. He showed and shared love with all He met. His love moved Him to action, but He was not received of all. Many hated Him in spite of His love. If our Lord was hated even as He loved, we need not expect everyone to love us. In fact, we might as well expect opposition and hatred from the world. John 15:19 – If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
II. The Revelation in Love (14-15) – Here we discover that love, or its absence, will be revealed in the lives we live. Consider the revelation in love. We find: