Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1 John 3:10-11 -- On Doing Righteousness and Active Love

"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.
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
1 John 3:10-11

These verses are a good reminder that in order to be good people, we need to do good things.  Earlier in this chapter, John explains that we are the sons (children) of God, and a little of the potential and hope that idea offers.  Here, he is talking a little about the responsibilities that idea entails, specifically doing righteousness and loving our brothers.  In this case, brothers means neighbors which also means everyone, as illustrated elsewhere in the scriptures, for example Matthew 5:43-44.  And the love isn't just a passive love where we can sit back and imagine that everyone is awesome and behaves exactly as we wish.  We actually have to deal with people that are different than we are, and who might believe strange things or behave in bizarre ways. :)

Sometimes we don't think that it is quite fair to be judged by the things that we do.  It makes us feel misunderstood when we feel like no one is counting our intentions, and we feel like our hearts are in the right place, and we *feel* righteous.  Indeed, we learn in 1 Samuel 16:7 that "the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."  However, what we sometimes fail to understand is that God isn't some random person just looking at us in one way and dismissing us because of labels or preconceived notions.  God sees us inside and out.

What John is saying here is not that God is shallow and only cares about what we do.  John is trying to teach us that our actions *show* what is in our hearts.  Just as "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20, 26), our love, for God and for other people, is ultimately useless if it isn't expressed.  Having love in our hearts and letting go of hatred is a very, very good thing, and the emotion does matter, but it is only the beginning.  With faith and with love, and with righteousness, we have to first fill our hearts, and then put the principles into action in our lives where they can do some good.

Today, let's be children of God and not children of the devil.  Let's take action, do righteousness, and show our love for others.  Let's be more than just our emotions, and take action to change the world for good.

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