John draws once again on knowledge that he believes should by now be deeply embedded in the hearts of believers. It’s a message that has been conveyed from the beginning. It’s not a message that comes from him or even from the beginning of this letter, but a message that Jesus Christ proclaimed to his own disciples:
“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 CSB
That’s why John was able to write these words:
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.1 John 3:11-15
John knew that Christ’s command for us to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith was what set us apart from earthly family relationships that are soiled by the sin of Cain. When he should have loved his brother, he instead hated him to the point of murder. Only in Christ, can love overcome such animosity and give us distinction as believers.
It is our distinction in Christ—it is in our overwhelming love for each other—that leads the world to hate us.
Again, Elder John is just repeating his Master’s words:
If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.John 15:18-19
Not only does this love distinguish us to the point of leading the world to hate us, but it is a sign of our eternal distinction as well.
A sign of the Spirit’s seal upon our lives is the love we display for those who are in the family of God. What makes us incapable of displaying that love is the death that still reigns in our hearts. The new birth brings a transformed mind and a new willingness to love despite the differences. Hate is the emotion that leads to murder and thus reflects that our ownership has yet to change from darkness to light. Love is the emotion that leads to doing good for others, demonstrating we now belong to God.
Just as John wrote—we should all know this. It’s not a new message, but one from the Savior himself. The question for you today is: Do I reflect my owner’s love?
Grace and Peace