See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1 (NIV)
Read: 1 John 3:1-24
Consider: When reading 1 John 3 we can take great encouragement from its first verse where we are reminded of God’s great love that he has ‘lavished on us’. I like the dictionary definition of the word ‘lavished’ which is to: bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities. Do you have a sense of how God’s love has been freely poured out on you?
The remainder of this chapter of 1 John may make us less comfortable. There are two issues dealt with: firstly, anyone who continues to sin cannot be in Christ and secondly, being in Christ should lead to generosity in the use of material possessions.
As Christians we know that we are painfully aware of our sinful nature and the struggle we have in wanting to be more Christlike. Here John is talking about those who, despite having heard the message of grace, continue to lead unrepentant lives, in opposition to God. Christians, however, should seek God’s forgiveness when they do sin and their heart’s desire should be to lead holy and pure lives. This is what John says on the matter: No-one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No-one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. … No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God (1 John 3:6,9).
The second issue that might make us uncomfortable is to do with how we see our material possessions. In 1 John 3:17 he says: If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Did you notice my use of the words ‘our material possessions’. Herein lies the problem. If we see the possessions we have as ours, we can be tempted to treat them in a selfish way. However, if we see that everything we have has been given to us by God, we don’t need to feel possessive and protective of them. John says: Dear children, let us not love with words and speech but with actions and in truth (v18). John wants to encourage those who have committed their lives to Christ, to be generous in their use of material wealth and possessions. This reminds me of the early church as described in Acts 4:32-37. The key to these verses in Acts is not that the believers sold everything and used it to meet the needs of everyone in their community, but that ‘No-one claimed that any of their possessions was their own …’ (v32).
Pray: Father, we praise and thank you for the great love you have poured out on us. May we be willing to face up to any sin that binds us and to seek the strength of the Holy Spirit to live holy lives, characterised by love and generosity of spirit. Amen