August 12, 2021
Scripture: Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3 18-20 ESV
Observation: Commentators agree that this is a difficult passage to interpret because of John’s awkward Greek construction. But one thing is clear about the above verses: John sees an inseparable relationship between truth and love and between love and acts of service.
Application: First, walk the talk: express your love toward others by laying down your lives for them (verse 16). At the time of this writing, Christians were risking their lives for fellow believers. But even if God was not calling them to lay down their lives, at least they should share God’s provisions with those in need (verse 17). Secondly, by expressing our love in the care of others, we will know that we belong to the “truth” (synonymous with being born again, John 3:8). Wait, is John leaning toward works-righteousness? Not at all. He offers us a means of assurance when our hearts would condemn us. When we are selfish or unkind toward others, we need to feel the pang of guilt. But there are other occasions when we feel condemned, whether spurred by the Enemy or our immature understanding of God’s grace. As such, John urges us to remember that our loving Father knows everything about us: our strengths, weaknesses, and propensity to sin. And he is “greater than [our] hearts.” For what we are incapable of doing (loving the unlovable), he has done for us (through Christ) and will continue to do through us (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
Prayer: Father God, deepen our knowledge of your love for us, that we would express it toward others. And deepen our understanding of your truth, that we would take our condemning thoughts captive with the assurance that you know everything about us. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling