This week, our pastor asked that we consider John’s explanation of why Cain murdered his brother Abel. “…because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.” 1 John 1:12
John then brings his point into perspective, “You’re not really surprised that the world hates you, are you?” (1 John 3:13) To this I ask, “Does the world hate me?”
Before Cain killed his brother, there was a series of emotional responses that took place in his heart. You remember… jealousy, then anger which turned to hatred.
Continuing, we’re reminded by John, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:15)
I know the right response here! I don’t want to hate anyone. I want to love everyone! I must be careful, though… John isn’t finished. He gives his readers a test to see if they can describe themselves as a Cain or an Abel.
He defines this love we are to have by our recognition of Jesus’ love for us… “He laid down His life for us.” How do I know if my love for others reflects Jesus’ love for me? “I lay down my life for them.” (1 John 3:16)
But to do this, must all believers literally die… or must we all suffer immense persecution as John’s readers and many today do? Possibly, but not necessarily. Not according to John. He describes laying down one’s life with another option… one where we possibly demonstrate this love by living for others.
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)
There’s the answer! John describes true love as evidenced by deeds, not by words. When I truly love as Jesus loved, I respond to, and meet the needs of others… keeping their need for the Gospel ever visible. Failure to do so provides another kind of evidence… and unfortunately it can be associated with Cain much more than Abel.
Maybe I’ll take a moment and ask myself a question… written where you can hear it too. Does my life, professed to be in Christ, make sense to unbelievers? Do they see me as just another human trying to win the rat race of life by accumulating possessions and building nest eggs? Or…
Do they see a man whose primary focus in life is being a reflection of Jesus’ love. Do they see and experience the love that John spoke of and Paul described in the 12th chapter of his letter to the Romans?
John’s words are provocatively clear. When we don’t display this type of love to others, we express our hatred for them… we are murderers. Equally true, when we love others as ourselves, giving of our possessions, and declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the world won’t understand and this will inevitably lead to their dislike… sometimes hatred and persecution of us.
Still, with encouragement Francis Chan says, “This is the abundant life. When we zealously do good works for others… they get help, we get joy, and God gets glory.” Titus 2:14