11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, 12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth. 19 This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows all things. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight. 23 Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us.
1 John 3:11-24
“I need to check your vital signs.” When you visit a doctor or stay in a hospital, you will hear this phrase numerous times from a nurse or medical assistant. Why? A doctor reads these ‘vital signs’ looking for indicators of our general physical health.
Just as these signs help us check our physical health, there are also several ‘vital signs’ given in scripture which are indicators of our spiritual health. In today’s passage, John indicates that a primary sign is our love for our brother. He calls for our professed faith in Christ and His abiding love to be shown in love for our brothers and sisters.
God’s love is sacrificial and should define all our expressions of love. Selfishness and God’s love never abide together. This kind of love is possessed by our surrender. It is God’s gift to His children. The one sure sign of the love of God in a man is that he serves others.
In this willingness to surrender our life to Christ and serve Him, we find plenty of opportunities to show Christ’s love in our everyday living. Such love is very practical in its application. You see your brother in need, you have enough, so to give him of what you have is to follow Christ. Christian love is active and personal. It may be faithfully giving money we could have spent on ourselves to relieve the need of someone poorer. There are any number of practical ways to lay down my life for my brother—food, clothing, shelter, time and involvement—all of which represent essential parts of life. We also contribute faithfully to support the ministry of the local church, to mission work at home and abroad, and to projects where resources are pooled to reach various needy people groups with God’s love.
To be loving enough to want to sacrificially share demonstrates our faith in God. For the Christian, faith toward God and love toward men are two sides of the same coin. Two things are pleasing to God: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord, and love for one another with the same sacrificial, selfless love He has for us.
John states that being indifferent to a brother’s need calls for a spiritual check-up. We need to check the vital sign of the love of God in our hearts.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How often do I check the vital signs of my spiritual health?
- Have I experienced Christ’s sacrificial love? Am I demonstrating that love by investing my life in Christ in the lives of others?
- Am I looking daily for opportunities to show God’s love by meeting my brother’s needs?
Showing brotherly (or sisterly) love can be done through acts of kindness or being helpful to one another. Discuss with your children how each one could be kind or helpful to his or her sibling. If you only have one child, discuss how he or she could be kind or helpful to a friend, classmate or neighbor this week. Practice showing brotherly (or sisterly) love this week!
Pray for Scripture translation efforts today. One out of every five people in the world is still without the Bible in their heart language. Imagine what it would be like to have a language barrier between you and the Word of God.