Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.
In these verses, John emphasizes the importance of love in the life of a believer. This is a monumental passage that we could dig into a lot, but we’re going to simplify it down for our time together today. Love is not just an emotion or a feeling as the world frames it to us. Rather, biblical love is a reflection of God’s character and an essential aspect of our relationship with Him. It’s so much better and deeper than the “love” the world has to offer. There’s a Greek word for God’s love, “agape” love, that’s regarded as the highest form of love. It’s love in action, love that empathizes with others, that serves others, it’s selfless and sacrificial. It’s the way God loves us, choosing the action of sending His son for us. It’s the way He walks through life with us every single day. It’s the way we choose to follow Him, even when it’s hard. It’s the way we serve selflessly, it’s the way our hearts break and rejoice with our brothers and sisters. Pause here and just let it sink in before we love on. We hear the word love thrown around so much that it’s easy for it to lose its significance. Pause and let God’s definition of love wash over you.
Ok, let’s dive into John’s meaning:
In this passage. John is warning us that claiming to be in the light while harboring hatred or animosity towards our brothers and sisters is a contradiction. We cannot claim to be followers of Christ, who is the embodiment of love, if we hold onto hatred. Hatred is a mark of darkness, and it blinds us from seeing the truth. It blinds us from being able to keep our eyes firmly set on the Lord.
On the other hand, John assures us that when we love our brothers and sisters, we are living in the light. Love illuminates our path and keeps us from stumbling. When we walk in the light of love, we experience the freedom and joy that come from being in a deep relationship with God and others.
Love is the foundation of our faith because God Himself is love (1 John 4:8). When we love one another, we reflect God’s love to the world. We show His character to those around us as we claim His name. Our love becomes a testimony of our relationship with Him, which He can use to draw others to Him. Despite living in a dark, broken world that can feel hopeless, love breaks down barriers, heals wounds, and unites us in a way that nothing else can.
I wish I could tell you I show Christ like love to everyone all the time…. However, loving others is not easy. It requires selflessness, forgiveness, and grace. It means putting aside our own desires and preferences for the sake of others. Love is not just a feeling; it is a choice we make all day, every day. Daily the world is trying to take our eyes off of Jesus, to make us groan and grumble. Love is hard. Living in a sinful, broken world means we are constantly faced with both our own sin and the sin of others. It’s so hard to choose love when either, or both of those are running rampant. It’s so hard. But, it’s worth it. Love is a choice, all day every day. But, we don’t have the power to act in love on our own. God is with you, to nudge your spirit when you need it, to guide your words and your heart. Lean on Him, ask for help because only through His spirit are we able to reflect the light of His love in a dark world.
Disclaimer: Friend, hear me on this loud and clear, love absolutely does not mean lack of boundaries. In some relationships, the best way to love someone is from a distance. God loves you as His child and wants to protect you from toxic relationships. He wants to free you from any hatred, anxiety, anger that holds you back from experiencing His full joy. You can heal wounds with the Lord without an apology. You can keep your eyes set on Him, but still set clear and firm boundaries that limit access to people who are unhealthy for you. If you’d like more clarification on this disclaimer, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Lord, help us to honestly examine our hearts today. Are there any areas of my life where hatred or bitterness has taken root? Are there people I need to forgive and love? Lord, help me to see the state of my heart accurately. Show me how to walk in the light so that I may love a little more like you each day. Lord, thank You for modeling the ultimate love for us. Thank you for your unconditional love that never levels my side. Fill me with this love so that it might pour over into my relationships with those you’ve placed in my life. God, give me the strength and grace, even when it is hard. Thank you Lord, we love you. Amen