21st December 2016
This is our concluding message to our studies in 1 John and we look into 1 John 3:10-18.
John told his readers in this passage that love differentiates them from the world. However, this “love” isn’t the love that we, in our cosmopolitan lives, have grown accustomed to. This love is “Agape” love. Perhaps as Christians we would have heard this Greek word for love used many times, in many sermons but taking a look into the Greek Lexicon shows us a clear definition of what Agape really means:
“To have a strong, non-sexual affection and love for a person, especially characterized by a willing forfeiture of rights or privileges on another person’s behalf.”
Understanding this definition helps us see clearly why John was so passionate when he wrote about Agape love to a church filled with false teachings of love. And with this understanding, we can see John directing his readers to change three mind-sets about Agape love…
- LOVE IS A REQUIREMENT (1 John 3: 10-11)
John told his readers that Agape love is a requirement and a command, but he clarifies that this requirement is not a forced-to-obey type of command. Instead, because verse 11 is written in present tense in Greek, John was calling for his readers to love one another as a normal and consistent habit of life; an overflow from our relationship with God!
- LOVE IS NOT RESENTMENT (1 John 3: 12-15)
John, in these next verses, instructs that we should not be surprised if the Agape love that we show will lead to people to resent and even to hate us (v.13). This is because, as people of the light, we often exposed the darkness by just showing love.
So, the natural thing for us to do is avoid and be apathetic to the people who resent us. But if the opposite of love is hate, wouldn’t choosing not to love be, in fact, hating people? And John in verse 15 has very strong words for this indifference! We therefore have to choose to show Agape love because by its definition, it is a willingness to forfeit our rights or privileges on another person’s behalf.
- LOVE IS RELINQUISHMENT (1 John 3: 16-18)
John now reveals what this Agape love really is – modelled after Jesus who laid down his life for us. With such a great model of love, how can a follower of Christ who sees another in need but has no pity have God’s love? Therefore, love with action is needed!
For many of us these days the biggest material possession that we have (v.17) is no longer money but TIME. Time cannot be bought and, rich or poor, we have an equal amount. Hence, the tendency is to guard our time. But there are only 3 things that we can do with our time – Spend It, Waste It, or Invest It!
To Spend Time would be to let time pass without thinking about how to use it, literally just letting it 'past'. To Waste Time is literally to kill it by doing something that does not add value. But to Invest Time…now this is devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular task with the expectation of a worthwhile result or to gain something in return. With this understanding, we should ask ourselves if we have relinquished our rights to guard our time and invest it to love someone who is perhaps unlovable; or who possibly might hate us? Didn’t our greatest model of love, Jesus Christ, show this relinquishment to us by dying on the cross?
During this season of giving, let’s invest our time to give the best gift we can – Agape Love!
Wishing you and your family a Blessed Spirit-filled Christmas!