Summary: That’s what you are going to find in this text this morning…what true love is. You are going to find in God’s word…1 John 3, what the real reason for the season is…You will find what the true motivation for living is.
Living the Life With the Greatest Gift
Scripture Reference: 1 John 3:1 – 9
Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.
I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s "Winter Pageant." I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production.
Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.
During the final dress rehearsal as I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment -- songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
So, when my son’s class rose to sing, "Christmas Love", I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Those in the front row -- center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.
As the class would sing, "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love".
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her -- a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down -- totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".
The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood -- the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.
For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:
CHRIST WAS LOVE.
That’s what you are going to find in this text this morning…what true love is. You are going to find in God’s word…1 John 3, what the real reason for the season is…You will find what the true motivation for living is…You will find not just one motivation but several to get your life in a forward motion towards the goal of living to please God.
Over the last several weeks we have been ministering on the subject: Living the Life…that is, living the life that God intended for you to live. John has been giving us a study in contrasts…love vs. hate…truth vs. lie…light vs. darkness…obedience vs. disobedience…the world vs. the Word.
But make no mistake, John has made it very clear that one the ways to define yourself as a Christian and recognize other believers is by the life you live God’s way and not yours. In the first two chapters the emphasis was on fellowship, but here in chapter three John focuses on sonship.
I thought the words of Dr. J. Vernon McGee one of America’s best-loved Bible teachers would serve as a good transition into the text:
“It is one thing to testify that we know Christ and are in Him; it is quite another to have a life that reveals that He is our righteousness. It is wonderful to know positionally that we are in Christ and that we are accepted in the Beloved, but it is altogether different to have a life down here that is corresponding with that.
Listen, John is telling his readers that one of the ways that we recognize other believers is by their lives not by their lips.”
In these early verses of chapter three, God gives us His action to help mold and shape our reaction towards Him and towards each other. God gives us His motivation to help define and confine our motivation towards Him and towards each other.
If you don’t know how to live, God shows you how. If you don’t know why to live, God gives you a reason why. If you don’t have the strength to live, God provides you with the resources for living down here. God gave a life --- Christ --- so that you can have a life for Him.