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Morning and Evening Thoughts–1 John 3:13-22

November 17, 2012

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. 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

The truth in 1 John 3:13 comes as no surprise. Stick your righteous nose into the carnal affairs of the world and expect an avalanche of ridicule and spewed venom. We can expect no less than the fate of Jesus if we push the envelope exposing evil. The irony is that living a simple unassuming godly life can rouse the ire of those who do not wish to be set up for comparison. It may seem that when you take a stand for God the whole world stands against you. It does! Only in this passage does John use the term “brethren” or “brothers”, compared to “little children.” Exposing evil and dispensing unvarnished truth is not for the young at heart. Nevertheless, John’s point may just be aimed at worldly Christians who “get their dander up” when criticized for worldly behavior. “How dare you” is the response to our gentle rebuke, rather than, “thanks I needed that.”

I’ve observed those who have truly “passed out of death into life”. Pride and prejudices melt away and what remains is a soft and serving heart. No longer is the world viewed through selfish lenses, but through the eyes of Jesus. Where in the past life of sin, the hopeless and helpless are held in contempt, for some reason, there is now compassion for their plight, a real sense that there, but by the grace of God, go I. 1 John 3:14

The bar for hate is excruciatingly low. In turn, the bar for love is extremely high. It really makes it hard to feel proud about one’s self. Jesus equated anger against a man as murder (Matt. 5:21-22). Who hasn’t raged against some fool? But we can’t and we shouldn’t. To agape love like Jesus we must lay down our life for another. We have one life to give and we give it for some worthless neighbor? These extremes are aimed to get our attention, to hit us between the eyes. A hating heart needs to be checked at the door of the kingdom. And to walk its streets, one must be prepared to fall on a grenade to save a brother. 1 John 3:15-16

In God’s economy there is no need for welfare from the government. Those who have, give to those who don’t–who are in need, that is. But notice it’s the one who sees the need who is primarily responsible. There is the concept of proximity in this transaction. If God puts someone at your door in need and you shut it on them, how can the love of God be in you? We are needy people. Does God slam the door on us? Besides, who gave you the surplus? It’s like the slave who has been forgiven a huge debt, who turns around and imprisons someone who owes just a few dollars (Matt. 18:24-35). 1 John 3:17-18

There are many who do charity who want only the props and exposure. It really has nothing to do with God-induced compassion for mankind. Then there’s the guilt that drives many successful people to “give back.” In an effort to somewhat model what a bleeding heart looks like, the celebrity may show up in an African orphanage as a sort of penance for a life of indulgence, flying in, of course, in a private jet. The kind of charity John is talking about is agape love, and the key word is not “deed” but “truth.” When love emanates deep within and bubbles up in charitable deeds regardless the presence of photographers or anyone else, then you know God is at work in you to will and work for his good pleasure. When you know it’s a “God thing,” you know you are his. This is assurance of salvation. 1 John 3:19

There are a myriad of ways Satan can condemn us before God, from calling attention to our impure motives and thoughts to making a big deal of our mess-ups. He’s there to prosecute our sins before God, and certainly make us feel miserable with taunts in our ear pieces. But in our hearts we know God has forgiven us, and despite our failures and foibles, we are his, and he won’t cast us out (John 6:37) or release his vice grip on our hearts (John 10:28). Despite what we might hear in our ears, and what we feel in our hearts, and what we think in our heads, we know God can overrule our senses, reverse our emotions, and outweigh our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). He can make it so that we can confront the accuser with the truth; that Jesus is the satisfaction for all sin for those who believe. On second thought, Jesus himself makes the case, and we simply stick our head out from behind his robe to yell “yeah, so there!” So, another source of salvation assurance is the welling up of confidence from deep within, brought forth by a recounting of the truth and all of its manifestations within us. This is why scripture memory is so important. Hear the condemnations. Start naming and claiming. 1 John 3: 20-21

The compassion that spawns true charity and the confidence that springs forth from the truths in his word, make us one with him (John 17:22), and those one with himreceive what they ask for, because an obedient child of God is really no different from Jesus walking on earth, and does the Father withhold good things from his son? In fact, Luke 11:13 tells us that if we can give good gifts to our children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit [within us]. He is the best gift one could have–and this is a major understatement. It is nothing better to please your father, and possess an acquitted heart! 1 John 3:22

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