1 John 3:11-24 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (12) Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. (13) Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. (14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (15) Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
(16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (17) 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? (18) Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
(19) This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: (20) If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (21) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God (22) and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. (23) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (24) The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
What does is it mean to love one another as christians? We follow the ultimate example of Christ who shows us what love is: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”(v16). If it wasn’t any clearer, the point is emphasized in the next verse: “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”. I think these verses lie at the heart of this passage.
Love becomes more than just mere sentimentality instead it is how we act towards each other. Since Christ sacrificed all he had for our sake, we as his followers are called to do the same for our fellow brothers and sisters. In recent times, the call to be generous and to help each other materially is generally self-focused. If you want [money, prosperity, health etc] then be generous with your finances. This passage says: If you claim to have God’s love and are in Christ, then you will be generous.
I would also suggest that if we are truly generous and follow God’s commandment to love one another, it will show in what we ask for when we pray. And the Lord will give us whatever we ask, because what we ask will please Him and be in line with His commandment (v22-24). Its about a life truly transformed by the Holy Spirit so much so that our ambitions, dreams, hopes etc are all shaped by the gospel and stands in stark contrast to the what the world values. This is seen by how we are about to care for one another’s needs: both spiritual and physical.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35