One Another Devotion - Day 31
I John 3:10-19 NKJV
“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. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 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. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 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. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.”
In reading these verses, several things struck me. Since hate is equivalent to murder, then we need to be VERY careful to guard our hearts toward others. Cain harbored hatred for his brother because of Abel’s righteousness, and killed him for it. We are living in a climate in our country where hate and anger are the prevailing emotions.
As Christ-followers, we must show the world what a love looks like—even as we are hated by it for our faith. We can’t afford to harbor anger and hatred against one another, and so step into the world’s mess. We must love our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we disagree with them, or heaven forbid we don’t like them or they irritate us!
We must remember that love is an action, not feeling. Even if we struggle with someone, we still must choose to love them. This means showing them respect, and putting their needs ahead of our own, regardless of our “feelings” toward them. If we are unwilling to help them, and close our hearts to them, how can we have God’s love in our hearts?
God gives us people who are challenging to us in order to refine us and build our character. (Boy am I having conviction about one of my coworkers right now! Forgive me Lord—help me to show her your love, even when her behavior is not very lovable, and change my heart toward her.)
I think we need to more consciously love these people—-taking extra steps to go out of our way to help them, and be more open to interaction with them.
Have you ever been around a brother or sister in Christ who you just really struggled to get along with or be around? How did that go for you? Were you able to maintain brotherly love for them for the sake of the Lord? Did you find you felt convicted and had to repent of your attitude or behavior? Did you repent and ask God to change your heart toward them? What happened? Do you still need to do it? Do you need someone to pray with you about it?