The First Mark of a Christian
11For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another . . . 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. —1 John 3:11, 14-16
True and genuine love confirms salvation more than anything: more than your love for God’s Word, more than your heart for worship, more than your passion to serve. The best test of the reality of your faith is your love. It’s number one. If your love thermometer is not going up over time; if you’re not more loving than you used to be; if you’re not more tenderhearted; if you’re not more forgiving; if you’re not a kinder person than you were when you came to Christ—not good. “We know that we have passed . . .” We know—that’s the goal of John’s whole letter, eternal assurance. God wants us to know. And you can know you’ve passed. That word passed is the word used when Jesus would pass out of one city into another. It means “I’ve left it behind.” When you pass from death—you were dead to God, to forgiveness, to love—to life, but then you came alive spiritually and the lights came on and the music started and your spirit came alive to God through faith in Christ. When that happened, notice in the text: “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.” Love is the absolute confirmation.
In fact, verse 15 says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life . . .” You know that no murderer has eternal life, not that he could someday be forgiven, but he sure didn’t have Christ when he was out there putting the knife into somebody. A Christian wouldn’t do that. And yet, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” So this is the thing with Christians: we can’t hate and true love confirms our salvation.
“By this we know love”(v.16).This is how we know what love looks and feels like. This is how we know what love does: “By this we know love, that he (Jesus)laid down his life for us.” Do you want to know what love is? Jesus Christ is 100 percent love. He is the litmus test for love. Jesus Christ is the gold standard of love. Everything you will ever need to know about what love looks like and does, it’s in Jesus Christ.—James MacDonald
· How would people know I understand the sacrificial aspects of genuine love?
· What stands out today for me about Jesus’ example of love this time of year?
Prayer – Father, I see that love for others and for You is the first mark of a genuine faith—and this does not come easily to me. That kind of love isn’t in me on my own. When it’s present, it comes from You. So I’m asking You today to pour that kind of love into my life. And give me a continual awareness as I love others that You are supplying the capacity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.