Message Title: ‘Practicing… love’
Text: 1 John 3:11-18
Introduction: I have to admit that my memory’s not great. And it’s not just that I’m getting old. I really never had a great memory… and that includes peoples names.
- Have you ever gotten embarrassed that you didn’t remember someone’s name when your spouse or friend was there too and you had to introduce them?
- I’ve read that if you want to remember someone’s name, you need to repeat it as often as you can the first few of times you see them.
In so many areas like; sports, the details of your job, playing an instrument, repetition is essential… in the physical word of sports, and playing an instrument, there’s something called ‘muscle memory.’
- When I was working towards my Black Belt, I can’t tell you how many times I practiced doing individual punches and kicks. Then practicing them in sequence, over and over again.
- It’s called developing muscle memory.. it comes through numerous repetitions so that it become s 2nd .
Repetition, in its many forms, is a key to learning. And the Apostle John makes frequent use of it in 1 John, particularly on the topic of… love.
Isn’t it true, that it’s fairly easy to forget to love to someone who you’ve been in a relationship for a long time?
I’m not really talking about the emotion of love, but the action… the ‘doing’ love.
What is it that often leads us to forget to show love to others?
- Taking the other person for granted.
- Having significant differences of opinions.
- Being betrayed by others.
- Being… hurt… by others.
- And that seems to almost always lead to hate.
Today, during this particularly tumultuous season of life, it seems that as each day goes by, we experience more and more examples of hate, not just from the world around us, but from those closest to us.
- And when we do, when we continually experience the various expressions of hate,
- We forget how to love.
In reality, we choose, not to show love to others.
And this is true across the board…
- Saved… or not. Child of God… or not.
For those who are saved, who are children of God, that’s a HUGE problem. The Bible is VERY CLEAR…
- We’re to be different than the world, even in how we love.
- We’re taught in the Bible that loving others is our calling card, it’s at the HEART of who we are as followers of Jesus.
- And that when we became children of God through faith in Jesus, when God has poured out His love into our lives, He works in us to take away our hate.
So, it’s for these reasons that the Apostle John once again returns to the subject of choosing to love one another, and reminding us, of the consequences of not choosing to love and instead choosing to hate.
- 1 John 3:11 Love is foundational
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning. John has used this phrase or one very much like it 3 times so far. He does this to remind followers of Jesus of some significant truths they were in danger of forgetting.
- 1 John 1:1-2 that Jesus is God in the flesh.
- 1 John 1:5; 3:3 that Jesus is holy, w/o sin.
- 1 John 3:11 that we should always choose love over hate.
The idea in verse 11 is that love, choosing to love others rather than choosing to hate others, is the result of becoming children of God through faith in Jesus.
- At that specific moment in time, God poured out His love (agape)… into us.
- God gives us a new capacity to love like we’ve never known.
It’s a love that knows no bounds:
- It loves the unlovable.
- It loves those who seek to hurt you.
- It’s loves the underserving, the unkind, the ungrateful.
- It loves those who have differing opinions.
- It even loves those who don’t vote like you.
John is reminding us… that’s how we were taught by Jesus Himself, to love others.
- 1 John 3:12-15 Hate & love
- 1 John 3:12-13, 15 Hate = death
We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Make no mistake. John clearly says that if you choose to habitually hate (hate is in the present continuing tense) there is no life in you.
- You are not a child of God.
Then John gives us the example using Cain, Adam and Eve’s 1st born son. You remember the story, true story, real event that actually took place.
- Genesis 4:1-16
Both Cain and his brother Able brought an offering to God.
- Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Able’s offering was accepted by God and Cain’s wasn’t. It seems Able’s offering was given in faith and Cains was not.
Well, Cain wasn’t happy. He was jealousy of God’s favor on Able. And that jealousy drove Cain to anger, then to hatred, and finally, to murder. Cain killed his brother.
Cain was warned by God what would happen if he chose hate. Genesis 4:6-7
- The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Folks, that what still happens.
- When we open the door to hate…
- it lies in wait, to not only consume us,
- but to destroy us.
Hate comes in many forms prejudice, bigotry, intolerance, indifference. And all are deadly.
And often, hate has its roots in jealousy.
- Cain was jealous of God’s favor on Able.
- God’s favor on Abel was the result of his righteousness.. his choosing to obey God, to live rightly before God.
- And listen, Abel’s righteousness, convicted Cain of his own sin, his own disobedience, his own lack of right living before God.
And it led to Cain’s choice to hate Abel, then, to kill him.
John’s telling us that’s still happens today. The unsaved world around hates Christians:
- ok maybe to soften it up they treat us with prejudice, bigotry, intolerance, and or indifference.
But it’s still a choice to hate. Why? For the same reason Cain hated Abel.
- They see our right living and it convicts them of their sin.
- They don’t want to admit or deal with their sin, so they take out their anger… on us.
John is saying, Christian… know that the unsaved world is NOT your friend and like Cain, it’s seeking ways to destroy you.
Bottom line for John here is this:
- Whoever continually chooses to hate,
- will only know death.
But, John will add, those who choose to practice love, will know life.
- 1 John 3:14 Love = life
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
John isn’t saying that choosing to love others saves us, makes us right with God. No. He’s saying that choosing to love reflects that we are saved, that we have passed out of death into life.
- The Jewish Christians who read this had a special understanding of this phrase.
- It’s very much like what happened just before the Hebrews were released from Egypt to go to the Promised land.
- Those who believed God, sacrificed a lamb and placed some of its blood around the door to their home.
- When the Angel of Death arrived at that home, he saw it and death passed over them, and they lived.
Listen, it’s still how we’re saved today: Romans 5:9
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His (Jesus) blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.
The Apostle John wrote this in his Gospel:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)
Through faith in Jesus, by the amazing grace of God, we too have passed out of death into life.
- And the new kind of life we have in Jesus, is marked by choosing love over hate.
Christian, we all choose to hate from time to time. And we all choose sin from time to time. But remember from what John has previously taught us in 1 John…
- The difference is, we don’t choose to practice hatred, to make hating our lifestyle.
John’s saying to us what God said to Cain: If you do well, will you not be accepted? (If you choose to love) And if you do not do well, (If you choose to hate) sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.
And when we do choose to hate, to sin, John already told us how to make it right with God:
- My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Choosing to love… reveals God’s eternal life, in us.
- 1 John 3:16-18 ‘Doing’ love
- 1 John 3:16 Love is sacrificial
By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Steven Cole writes: A woman was surprised at church one day when another woman, who had often snubbed her, went out of her way to give her a big hug before the service. She wondered what had initiated her change of heart.
She got her answer at the end of the service when the pastor instructed, “Your assignment for next week is the same as last week. I want you to go out there and love somebody you just can’t stand”
If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug to someone you don’t like, we all could excel in love. Just hug them and move on! But, love is a bit more difficult than that! It requires continual effort, because at the heart of loving others is putting the other person ahead of yourself, and that is always a huge battle.
- That’s because, making sacrifices for others, just doesn’t come naturally to us.
Yet, it’s certain, John’s saying that this new kind of life through faith in Jesus, is evidenced by love.
- And one trait of that love is that it’s sacrificial.
I believe John may have meant that two ways:
Choosing to love others to the extent
- that we are willing to die for them, if need be,
- for the good, for the welfare of others.
Here’s an example.
Ill: October 2, 2006, in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, a local milkman named Charles Carl Roberts barricaded himself inside the West Nickel Mine Amish School.
He was armed with three guns, knives, and over 600 rounds of ammunition.
When police attempted to intervene less than half an hour later, Roberts opened fire on 11 girls, all less than 14-years-old, killing 5. After these brutal acts, he turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide.
According to two of the survivors, when 13-year-old Marie Fisher began to understand what Charles Carl Roberts intended to do, she made a request. “Shoot me first,” she said, “and leave the other ones loose.”
Immediately after this request, Marie’s younger sister Barbie added one more. “Shoot me second,” she said. (Bruce Goettsche)
Dying for others certainly is intended in this text. But… there’s more to sacrificing our lives then just physical death.
- It’s dying; to our own agendas, to our own wants, our own wishes, emotions, desires, habits, comfort, wealth, time.
- And instead, living, using all that makes up our lives, to serve others
To lay down our lives for the brothers also means we’re willing to live for others, in such a way, that it’s an expression of sacrificial love.
Christian, can you list the people in your life you’re choosing to love sacrificially by living for them?
- Husbands, you know this should be especially true of how you live for your wife.
Most husbands, if not all, will say yes, I will take a bullet for my wife.
- But I think she’d rather you give up golf on a Saturday to go with her to a craft fair.
- Or to stop demanding your rights and seek to meet her needs.
Paul writing to the Christian men in Ephesus said: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
- Men, what are you choosing to let die in your life
- so that your wife might live to the glory of God?
Listen, this is not just for husbands, it’s for all of us. Paul writing to all the believers in the church at Galatia said: For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, NASB95)
To put it another way, we choose daily to live for others, to make an investment of our time, talent, and energy in the lives of others
Friends, another name for denying self and living for others… is servanthood.
- It’s when we sacrifice our rights and privileges for the good of others.
I believe that’s what John is telling us to do.
- 1 John 3:17 Love is compassionate
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
- LOVE DOES… LOVE ACTS
When those who walk in close fellowship with God, see someone in need, they’ll choose to love, they’ll choose to help.
And that makes us all take a hard look, not just at our feelings of love for others, but how we treat others around us, particularly those in need.
John gives us a very clear example: Someone has a need and we have the means to help, but choose not to. When more than not, that’s our choice…
- God’s love is not in us. Hard truth.
As a church, this is so important. Not just to those who are in need in our fellowship, but to the world around us who will see our consistent practical expressions of love. Let me make this simple:
- It’s not enough for us to say to someone in need: ‘I’ll pray for you.’
- It must be ‘I’ll pray for you and how can I help you right now?
Look, I know from experience, that it’s MUCH easier, to ignore someone’s need than to help meet them. It’s often inconvenient and… just might cost us something. Yet…
- It’s what we do. (3 x’s)
- as followers of Jesus Christ.
This was taken from Our Daily Bread devotional
When James Cates was a university student, he worked the night shift as a houseparent in a residential treatment center. One of his jobs was the overwhelming task of doing the laundry for 23 teenage boys.
The laundering process often did a number on the boys clothes. So when a troubled young boy named Jake was given a new shirt from his mother, James offered to wash it separately. Soon other boys began asking him to include a favorite article of clothing in his “special” load. It was a small act of kindness, but it meant a lot to the boys.
Twenty years later, after establishing a successful practice as a therapist, teaching at a university, and being published in scholarly journals, Cates wrote: “With time to look back and reflect, no client I have ever known and no service I have ever performed means more to me than Jake and his shirt, and those special loads of clothes.” A simple act of caring is a powerful expression of God’s compassion in our troubled world. (David C. McCasland)
It seems many of the ladies in our ‘Women’s Walk’ small group, have their own laundry ministry here at CBC. They’re choosing to love for the Hetems, by regularly doing their laundry for them.
And not only that they, and many others here at CBC, have chosen to love the Hetems by bringing them meals over the next few weeks.
- If you were all around when the Apostle John lived, I believe he would have used all of you as an example of choosing to practice love.
- 1 John 3:18 Love is a lifestyle
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
This is quite simple and I’ll not belabor the point but to add that John’s saying; choosing to love, means practicing love, making it a lifestyle, for the children of God through faith in Jesus. When it comes to loving others, not only put your whole heart into it, but your whole life in to love.
- Make, choosing to love others, who you are.
Ill: Peter Kreeft, a Christian apologist, once described a cartoon with two turtles. One says, “Sometimes I’d like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine, and injustice when He could do something about it.” The other turtle says, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.” (Peter John Kreeft, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, Zondervan, 2001, p.50).
Christian, which turtle are you? How’s your love life? Or should I as How’s your life of love?
Let me challenge you with this. Let choosing to practice love start in your home. Ask each of those you live with
- What’s one thing I can do today and this week to demonstrate my love for you?
- Then do it!
If you live alone, ask a close friend or neighbor.
- Friends, let us make it a practice
- … of loving others.