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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”—1 John 3:11-15 (NKJV)
My daughter and I are constantly told how much she looks like me. Because of our resemblance, there is no mistaking that she is mine. In addition to our common looks, we also have many similar characteristics and habits. Whenever she does something I would do, I cannot help but think, “She is her mother’s child,” for better or for worse.
In 1 John 3:11-15, John describes what a child of God should and should not look like, and the description is clear and constant: love. And he reminds us this is not a new message—the gospels are replete with exhortations to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians we are to love, not only in word, but in deed, because the stakes are high.
Our love for our brothers and sisters in the faith showcases the love of Christ. In John 17, Jesus prays over us, his disciples. In this prayer, He petitions God the Father to make us one so the world will know God sent Him. In essence, our unity proclaims Christ’s deity.
While love is a characteristic of a Christian, it is important to remember that we are not Christians because we love. Our salvation is a gift from God that we cannot earn.
Conversely, he who hates his brother is compared to Cain, a man who murdered his innocent brother. Cain hated Abel because Abel was righteous and obedient. In the same way, we as Christians will experience hatred from the world for standing for what is right. But please be careful. Some of the ill-will expressed toward Christians today is not because of righteousness and faith, but because of unrighteousness and hypocrisy. The world is looking at us and expecting—hoping—to see love.
Cain allowed his jealousy to morph into a heart full of hatred. In James 1:15, we are reminded that after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. We are all capable of unthinkable sins.
Unlike Cain, who took his brother’s life because of his intense jealousy and an evil heart, Christ sacrificed His life for us because of His great love and a pure heart. Let us always fix our eyes on the cross, remembering His great love. For while we were yet sinners and without love, He died for us that we might have eternal life and walk in love.
DIG: Read 1 Corinthians 13 for a clear reminder of what love looks like.
DISCOVER: Ask the Lord to show you anyone in your life who you may harbor ill will toward.
DO: Confess any feelings of hatred and commit to pray for someone you may consider an enemy.