WE HAVE. THEY NEED.
1 John 3:13-18
When John and his brother James began as Jesus’ students, they were apparently quite young and passionate. Jesus gave them a good nickname: “Thunderers.” We can understand John. We understand his quickness to take offense and the anger that urged him to strike back (Luke 9:54). We understand the pride that held others at arm’s length (Mark 9:38). We understand the drive to succeed, the hunger to be somebody and gain a high place even at the expense of friends (Matthew 20:20-28). We’ve all been there.
What in the account of Cain illustrates the general attitude toward God’s people (3:12-13)?
John probably wrote his letters from Ephesus. They circulated among the Christian groups of western Turkey. Even those people were aware of Cain’s history. Cain reacted with hate to a brother who was good. Jesus responds with love to sinners who reject God. People’s feelings stick out. All you have to do is look at their behavior. Cain took another person’s life. Jesus gave His own life for other people.
Who is this “world” John keeps talking about (3:13)?
The test of Christian love is not simply failure to do evil to people. Love also involves doing them good. Christian love is both positive and negative. “Stop doing evil. Learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:16–17).
When did we “pass from death to life” (3:14; John 5:24)?
Among the passions that move us, a spontaneous love for people is missing. We can respond warmly, even unselfishly to those with whom we have a special tie. But even family relationships may degenerate into Cain’s kind of anger. Hurts, frustrations, real and imagined snubs, all build up. The exploding divorce rate and the deep canyons of isolation that mar so many families today are vivid evidence that Cain ties is still with us.
How does 3:14-15 use this as another test of a real Christian?
Who are the “brothers” that 3:14-15 mentions?
Love isn’t a feeling or an intention. Love’s a decision. It commits us to do things we might not otherwise do. Love isn’t about what you say to someone else. It’s what you do for that person. God’s kind of love not only changed our relationship with Him. It also changes the way we interact with other people.
What stands out to you about what real love involves (3:16-18)?
We don’t have to murder to sin. Hate is murder in our heart. We don’t even need to hate somebody else to be guilty of sinning. All we have to do is ignore that person, or be indifferent toward that person’s needs. To “close the door of our heart” on another person is a kind of murder.
How do we lay down our lives for other people (3:16)?
How does our sacrificial behavior make us more sure about our status with God (3:14,18)?
How many of the sentences in this section could end with exclamation marks? God’s given us new life and a life. Jesus came back to life to support a new unselfish lifestyle for each believer. Our relationships with other people begin to mirror the way Jesus interacted with others.
1. If you were to consciously practice “Jesus-like” love this week, how would you show that in your family? Church? Work? Community? Politics? Toward people you don’t like?
2. Where does God’s reminder to show unselfish, sacrificial love challenge you the most?
3. How does this section connect to John 14:15-21? What’s the connection to Genesis 4:1-16?