Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him. By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. – 1 John 5:1-2 NET
1 John 5:1-7
John has made it painfully and perfectly clear that, as believers, we are to love one another. He brings it up again here in chapter five. But as we learned in 1 John 4:7-21, we don’t get to determine the definition or standard of that love. We are to love one another with a godly love – a love that cares deeply about our spiritual well-being. It is not that we are to ignore or overlook one another’s physical, financial, or emotional needs, but I love you the most when I desire for you God’s best. God sent His Son to die on the cross so that we might have new life, eternal life. He sacrificed His own Son so that we might be redeemed, not just get slightly improved. God’s love for us desired His best for us. And it always does.
So I am to love my spiritual siblings with that kind of love. Which means I am to care deeply about their spiritual well being. So I am no longer free to simply address surface issues and ignore the heart issues that lie hidden underneath. I am not free to watch my brothers and sisters wallow in spiritual mediocrity and complacency. As their brother in Christ, I have a God-given obligation to love them as I have been loved. And I should be willing to sacrifice everything to see that they grow in Christ-likeness, mature in their faith, and increase in their knowledge of God. Paul told the believers in Galatia: “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives” (Galatians 4:19 NLT). He encouraged the believers in Ephesus, “speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT). As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to help one another grow. Christianity is not a solo-sport, it is a group effort. We are to grow together. The pastors and teachers are “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church … until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13 NLT). The pastor’s job is to equip the people to do God’s work, which is to build up the church – the body of Christ. And we are not supposed to stop that work until we are all mature in the Lord and fully like Him. And as far as I can tell from Scripture, that will not take place until God calls us home or the Lord returns for His Church. So we have work to do. We have job security. Our task of loving one another will not end until we are all like Christ. And even then, our love will not cease. But rather than being geared toward mutual transformation, it will become much more focused on mutual adoration – love for one another and for God. Paul tells us, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). Love is eternal, because God is eternal. God is love.
On this earth, our love for one another is put to the test because sin can make each of us unlovely and unlovable. But we are to love as we have been loved by God. Our goal is not reciprocal love, where we demand something in return. It is to be selfless and sacrificial, desiring God’s best for the other person. My love for my brothers and sisters in Christ is to be based on God’s love for them, His desire for them. I should want for them what He would want for them. God’s will is their holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3). That should be my will for them as well. John tells us the proof of our love for God is that we keep His commandments. And Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and others as ourselves. And John says, “his commandments do not weigh us down” (1 John 5:3 NET). We don’t find them burdensome or hard to bear. In fact, we should enjoy loving one another, because we see fruit, we witness spiritual transformation, we watch as God transforms those we love into the likeness of His Son. We love one another most when we desire for one another God’s BEST.