Scripture for Today: 1 John 3:11-15
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Love, as we have learned, is at the very core of who God is. God is love. He desires that we, His children, live lives of love. John reminds us “you have heard… that we should love one another” (vs 11). In his gospel, John expounded on this, when he quotes Jesus saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Life works best when we love others the way Jesus loved us… with a self-sacrificing love.
Unfortunately, our actual lives, habits and actions do not always reflect a life of self-sacrificing love. When we choose to live according to a different plan, problems quickly arise. In today’s passage John points to a few of the barriers that will prevent living lives centered on love. In particular, John points to the destructive power of pride, anger, jealousy and sin. Referencing the story of Cain and Abel from the Old Testament, he explains how Cain’s self-centeredness created a wellspring of pride inside of him that ultimately manifested in one of the most heinous acts a human can undertake. Rather then humble himself and live a life inline with God’s plan, like his brother Abel, Cain chose to live a different way. In the end, through a fit of jealous, pride-filled rage, he killed his own brother.
We might look at this scripture and think that we cannot relate, and that we would never kill someone out of prideful anger. Just as this thought settles into our minds, we read the next verse. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has has eternal life abiding in him” (vs 15). John connects the murder of Abel, with the damage and destruction that can occur when we chose not to love our brother. The Strong’s Bible Concordance identifies the original Greek word for “brother” as “adelphos“. One of the definitions for this word is “any fellow or man.” If we have any hatred in our hearts, towards any other person on the planet, we are comparable to Cain, according to the book of 1 John. We can never live the life God has designed for us to live if we choose to allow hatred, jealous, anger, selfishness or sin to become a barrier to love in our lives.
My NEXT Step: Do you have any barriers to love in your life? If so, confess it to God. Ask forgiveness of your fellow man, and chose to act in love towards everyone.
Questions to Catalyze Growth:
- What does it mean in verse 11 when John writes “we should love one another?“
- Why does John compare hate with murder?
- What does it mean to “pass out of death into life” (vs 14)