John always spoke to those who were followers of Jesus as “little children,” and related to them his command from God…”love one another.” John was bringing us to a place where he was teaching the followers of Christ how to live out their salvation. Life is more than just saying “I’m saved through Jesus Christ.” John taught that there is a unique difference in living a life for Christ.
One of the most difficult things in life is to truly love another. Loving God and life itself is much easier when there is no one else around! But we know better than that. “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). Note the following, far from conclusive, references to loving others:
Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies.
Matthew 5:46 Love has a reward.
Luke 6:35 Do good, even to your enemies.
John 13:34 Love as I have loved you.
John 13:35 All men will know you are My disciple if you love one another.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere.
Romans 12:10 Honor one another above yourself.
Romans 13:8 The continuing debt of love fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:10 Love does not harm a neighbor.
1 Corinthians 8:1 Love builds up.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never fails.
Ephesians 4:15 Speak the truth in love.
1 Peter 1:22 Love one another deeply.
1 Peter 4:8 Love covers a multitude of sins.
If you think about it, love and serving one another is not easy! The acts of loving others must begin with our attitudes about loving God and understanding what that truly means. Loving Him means getting to know Him through His Word, trusting in Him, and being obedient to His commands. Loving God is not a selfish love…it is a self-sacrificing love.
Note, according to Scripture, the attitude that Cain possessed (Genesis 4:1-8). Cain’s flesh revealed how hatred can bring out hostility towards his brother, Abel, and to God Himself. It revealed selfishness, and it also reflects the unbeliever’s attitude towards those who follow God (1 John 3:12-15). The end result of hatred is murder. Hatred belittles and destroys life, while love, in it’s faith and obedience to God, cherishes and nurtures life. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By this he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through this” (Hebrews 11:4). When we speak here of unbelievers, we are not just speaking of those who are not followers of Christ, for even believers can behave as unbelievers in their actions when they are acting in selfishness and disobedience, and when operating outside of God’s will. Human nature is what it is. We still operate in the flesh and declare “I want things my way.” When we give way to our own selfish desires, it is only then when God can do His will in our life. It is how we can best love one another. We must crucify this flesh daily (James 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Samuel 11:14-16). We are still growing in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are still learning from Him, and He is still teaching us as we are still learning to trust and have faith in Him. We must overcome our own desires and remind ourselves that we are saved by grace, and in our relationship with Christ we are to continually reminded of God’s love for us–in that love we are to love our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:14; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The example of true love is Jesus Christ (1 John 3:16-20). It is in how He lived His life and gave of Himself. He continually lived to meet the needs of others. “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life–a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).'” True love is giving of yourself to others (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8, 14). Service comes out of love for people. We were created to do His will and good works for not just believers, but for everyone! God, in your growing relationship with Him (namely, trusting in Him) will prepare you in your service to others.
When our heart is at rest in God, we have confidence in Him. His Word reveals to us where we can best use our talents and abilities and inspires us through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:21-24). We know we are in the truth because we believe in Him and He is operating within us! “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). God wants us to be people of action! We’re here to minister to the needs of others, in love. When you truly see God’s heart for people, you can’t help but give your life in service for Him. Remember how Jesus came and met us where we were for our own spiritual and physical needs. That work must continue through us in showing the love of Christ in service for others.
To be in Christ is knowing where we are by the Holy Spirit that He gave to us, through His influence in our lives as we have faith and trust in Him (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). If the work is of God, He will meet every need! “‘He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you'” (John 16:14-15).