Summary: Love serves as a great motivator, and our faith is motivated by love. When our love is lacking or weak, our faith will be as well. Love and faith go hand in hand, working together as we strive to serve the Lord, consistent with His will.
The Collaboration of Love and Faith
1 John 5: 1-5
Today we enter the fifth and final chapter of John’s first epistle. Consistent with previous teaching, John continues to deal with love, a subject he has spoken of at length. We have considered much concerning our love for the Lord and our love for one another. This is a genuine characteristic that manifests itself in the lives of believers.
In addition to the characteristic of love, John also addresses the faith of believers in this passage. The Bible has much to say about faith. We know that it is impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6. We also know that faith plays a significant role in salvation. Eph.2:8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: As we journey through life we must walk by faith rather than by sight, 2 Cor.5:7.
This passage deals with the characteristics of love and faith within our lives. If we are all we should be, living according to God’s desire and pleasing Him, we will exhibit both love and faith. Paul too understood the connection between faith and love. 1 Cor.13:13 – And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. Let’s take a few moments to consider the certainties John speaks of as we think on: The Collaboration of Love and Faith.
I. Love Motivated by Faith (1-3) – In the opening verses, John discusses the interaction of love and faith within the lives of believers. This plays a significant role in:
A. Our Conversion (1a) – Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Again John emphasizes the necessity of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of men. He spoke of this in 1 John 4:2, and 15. Some may find this a bit redundant, but John knew the significance of faith in Christ. It is foundational to salvation. We cannot know Christ as Savior without believing He is the Christ, born of God and come as the Redeemer of men’s souls. Salvation is nonexistent apart from faith in Christ.
Our love for Christ and even one another is certainly motivated by His great love for us. Apart from faith in Christ, one cannot really know, experience, or express love. Faith and love work together at conversion.
B. Our Compassion (1b) – and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. Here we are reminded again that our faith in Christ affects our love for the brethren. If we genuinely love the One who saved us, then we must also love others who are born again in Christ. It is impossible to love Jesus and yet not love others. If we love Him, we will love others as well. 1 John 3:14 – We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Faith and love working together is evident in our compassion for one another. It is easy to love the Lord when we pause to consider all He has done for us and the hope we have in Him. However, loving others as we should isn’t always that easy. We all have differences of opinion. We all have different desires and wishes. We have different personalities. It is easier to love those who share our views, but we tend to withhold such compassion from those who are different.
We must remember that it takes each of us working together to accomplish the work we are called to do. Others may not approach it the same as we do. They may not share our passion for a particular area or need, but we must love them as Christ does.
C. Our Conformity (2) – By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. There is a tendency in each of us to be a bit selfish at times. We like what we like and we want things to go according to our desires. It is not within human nature to submit to the desires of another. The flesh wants to promote itself, even at the expense of others. In ourselves we do not desire to live according to the Word of God, keeping His commandments. The flesh always desires that which is contrary to the spirit.
Our spiritual lives are a work in progress. We must learn to die to self daily in order to love others as we should and live lives pleasing to the Lord. Honestly we will never achieve such pursuits within our own means. We must have faith in the Lord to deny ourselves and live according to His will. I have never met anyone apart from Christ who willingly denied themselves in an effort to please the Lord. We cannot love our brother as we should apart from faith in Christ. There may be times when unbelievers are compassionate and helpful to others, but godly love is not present in their lives as it is in the lives of believers.