My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. (1 John 3:18-19)
The apostle John is often called the apostle of love. His close intimate friendship with Jesus caused him to describe himself in the Gospel of John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Love is a very important issue in John’s writings, and he argues in the epistle of 1 John that one of the proofs that we are truly Christians arises from the demonstration of love that we have for people in general and for our brothers and sisters in Christ in particular. There is much to be said on this subject as love is a foundational building block of Christian doctrine. God loved the world and sent His Son to die for our sins. Jesus loved His Father and in submissive obedience He went to the cross with joy knowing that by His selfless act He would receive God’s elect people as His inheritance.
God’s love in sending His own Son to die for us is a pattern for every Christian. This is especially true when we consider our relationship to God before our salvation. The scriptures teach that all of us are sinners. We defy God by breaking His commandments, which in scriptural terms is a demonstration of hatred. We are born depraved and by nature are the enemies of God. And yet in this vile, rebellious condition, God still loved us and was willing to give us grace and mercy. The marvelous truth of God’s love is that while we were in this state of rebellion and were enemies He gave Christ to show that He truly loved us and desired to reconcile us and bring us into a loving relationship with Him.
This type of love is a pattern for Christians because it is not natural for us to practice sacrificial love. Too often our love is expressed with words but is not followed with actions. The apostle John was an observer of Christ. He saw love in action as He watched Christ humbly and obediently go to the cross. Jesus vividly demonstrated love in front of John’s eyes as the God-man that had power to destroy His enemies simply bowed His head and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Whenever we are willing to forgive others no matter how they have wronged us, we show the love of Christ in our hearts. John said when we love in deed and truth, “hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”
Are you sure of your salvation? This is one of the ways you can evaluate your commitment to Christ to find out if it is real. Are you harboring grudges? Are there people in the church that you will not associate with because you feel you have been wronged? The first step is not for them to come to you. The first step is for you to go to them and tell them that you forgive them. Imagine how our condition would be different if God waited for us to come to Him so He could forgive us. None of us would be forgiven because we would never come. He came to us because we would not go to Him.
Pattern your life after Christ. Assure your heart that you are truly a child of God by love and forgiveness of your brothers and sisters in Christ. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:10)
Pastor V. Mark Smith