As we go deeper into John’s letter today, do you not feel like this aging elder is holding us by the hand and talking to us as we take a stroll down a forest path? After all, he’s already called us “little children,” and now he calls us “friends.” This is an intimate letter to brothers and sisters in his family. Those who have come to know Christ, including those of us who will read this letter thousands of years later, are gently and continually urged by our elder to take to heart his words. After reminding us that we should live and walk as Christ Jesus did, listen to what he says today:
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the word you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother or sister is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother or sister remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother or sister is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.1 John 2:7-11 CSB
John’s reminding us that he’s not saying anything we shouldn’t already know as Christ followers. The Lord Jesus himself gave that new commandment when he said:
I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35
Walking as Christ walked is to walk in love.
We show the world we are different by the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ. John says this is nothing new because Christ Jesus said it first. Even so, he wants to bring it to them in a new way. Because of the presence of Spirit-filled believers in the world, the darkness loses power. We are the light of the world as we live as Jesus lived. If we don’t live according to the words of Christ—hating our brother or sister—then we ourselves are walking in darkness.
Love for our brothers and sisters is evidence of his light in us.
When we are living and walking in the light, we are not easily tripped up nor do our words or actions cause others to fall. Our living by His light makes the way clearer both for ourselves and others. When we live in deception, trying to hide hate, envy, jealousy, or spite for our brother, we are soon tripped up by our own lies, and we also cause others to trip and fall.
Have you ever stumbled over your own blind anger toward another? Has envy and jealousy blinded you to your own sin? Has it brought up a wall of darkness between you and a fellow believer? Are you still living in darkness in relationship with others?
Check your heart.
John doesn’t beat around the bush—hatred toward another believer means you are living in the darkness yourself. The longer we stay in the darkness, the more the Spirit is quenched. If the Spirit lives in you, don’t stay where you are. Confess your sin to God and to your brother, then step fully into the light.
Renewing love for your brother doesn’t mean you won’t disagree.
As different members of the Body, we will not always see things the same way. Each person looks at things out of their giftings and maturity in faith. That’s okay. Celebrate the differences and show your appreciation for your brother or sister in the way God made them. In all that, you can still show love toward them.
Disagreement turns to hate when pride steps in between us.
Paul said it well in his letter to another church in Galatia:
For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.Galatians 5:13-15
To love others as Christ loved us requires the sacrifice of our flesh and pride. Ask the Father to help you live in the light and walk in love toward your brothers and sisters. It can be accomplished through the power of the Spirit by His…
Grace and Peace