The Test of Love
Here’s another test from John regarding whether or not you and I are a child of God. In 1 John 3 we have the test of love. Here is just one way that John writes it: 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. I don’t see how John could be any clearer here about the test of love. If you don’t love your brother, you don’t love God. It is also instructive to see how John pairs the idea of practicing righteousness and loving your brother. In today’s world loving someone is often paired with the “inability” to judge that one’s behavior. The mantra is that loving someone means to accept his behavior. If you don’t accept their behavior then you don’t love them. But that is a ridiculous idea. It doesn’t work with parenting and it doesn’t work with genuine relationships with those we truly love and care about.
Genuine love for a brother comes from the genuine love that God has placed inside His children through Jesus Christ. That love is there regardless of behavior; but it certainly doesn’t preclude, in fact I think it compels, each one to call others to righteousness. That can be done in love. If you don’t love your brother, I think you fail the test. As always, the good news is that you don’t have to study harder for the test, rather you can receive Jesus Christ and be infused with His love…then you can genuinely love your brother.