A glimpse into 1 John
Our Family Devotions this week look at parts of the epistle that the apostle John wrote while in exile.
MONDAY, June 11
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
What happens if you hold up the tiniest light – perhaps a match or even a cell phone screen – in a pitch-black room? The darkness, of course, is chased away. With a little imagination, you could envision the darkness creeping into the corners, trying to hide. God is light. He has broken into our darkness, chased it away, and makes us lights of the world, too. The apostle John says that if we “walk in darkness” we are lying about our relationship with God. In Ephesians 5,Paul gives us a list of some behaviors that go along with darkness: sexual immorality, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking. He calls them fruitless. As children of light, we are called to be light in everything we do. Do we approve of coarse joking and sexual immorality by allowing it into our homes via the many digital screens in our world today? But there’s a promise that goes with walking in the path that God has shown us in His Word. We have fellowship with other Christians, and we have forgiveness of sins. So although we step into the darkness at times, we rejoice that we are still children of light, forgiven and renewed.
You are the light of the world, so shine, shine, shine where you are. You are the light of the world.
TUESDAY, June 12
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:3-4
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Do what I say and not what I do.” Sometimes parents use it, perhaps in jest, especially as they realize they can never set the perfect example for their children. But it’s a terrible way to live – especially if you’ve been called to be proof of God’s love to the world. “Walk the talk” is a much more appropriate expression of what the Christian life should look like. When we don’t “walk the talk” – and regularly choose to disobey God’s Word – then we are rightly called hypocrites. But if we’re saved by grace through faith in what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection, why would John emphasize obeying God’s commands? We don’t earn God’s grace, so can’t we just ignore God’s commands? John also wrote these words of Jesus in the Gospel of John: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Obedience isn’t a way to earn grace, but it is the only way that we can truly show our love for God. We all have a problem, though – we fail miserably at faithfully obeying God’s commands, even if we truly want to because we love Him. That’s the struggle of being a forgiven saint and a human sinner. We are forgiven and made new, but we still wrestle with our sinful natures. Thanks be to God that when Christ returns, He will raise us from the dead into perfect humans, and we will never have to struggle against our human nature again!
Called by worship to Your service, Forth in Your dear name we go, To the child, the youth, the aged, Love in living deeds to show… (LSB 848)
WEDNESDAY, June 13
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:15-16
Think with me for a bit here. Why does John write “Do not love the world or anything in the world”? Consider John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…” What about the created world that God declared good, and which He became a part of when Jesus became man? What is John talking about? We must read this statement in context with the rest of the verses! John says the things of the world are “cravings of sinful man… lust of man… boasting…” That is definitely not the same meaning for world as it is in John 3:16, which is a reference to people. The created world is not what John means here either, for although it has been affected by sin, it is not evil in and of itself. God gave us this world to enjoy, to care for, and to use in order to spread His grace and love on earth. But when John says “Do not love the world,” he is talking about the distorted nature of sin, and how everything that God meant for good has been turned into idols of greed, lust, power, envy. We must learn to ask ourselves, “Are my time, material goods, and abilities in service to God and His good ways, or am I a servant to them?” God does not want His good gifts to enslave You – seek His will in the way you use His blessings.
Lord of all good, our gifts we bring You now; Use them Your holy purpose to fulfill. Tokens of love and pledges they shall be That our whole life is offered to Your will. (LSB 786)
THURSDAY, June 14
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, forwe shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:1-2
Think about the miracle of adoption for a moment. If you’re the one being adopted, you go from being fatherless, motherless, and basically homeless to being part of a whole family just because they chose you. You didn’t do anything to earn a place in their home, and you’re not a servant. You are their child, and they delight in having you as part of their family. It took paperwork, plowing through the court system, and legal transfers, but you are part of that family forever. If you are the ones adopting, you anxiously wait for the day when the child you have chosen is officially yours. You didn’t choose based on what they look like or their background or how much help you think they’ll be. You choose out of self-giving love, spending hours of work and prayer and perhaps thousands of dollars to bring a child into your home. The day he or she is finally home for good is a day of rejoicing and celebration. That’s the picture of God’s love for you. He so desired to have you be a part of His family instead of hopeless orphan that He paid the price, made the transaction from His own blood, and invited you into his family forever. We do nothing to earn that place – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!
See this wonder in the making: God Himself this child is taking As a lamb safe in His keeping, His to be, awake or sleeping. (LSB 593)
FRIDAY, June 15
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16b, 18
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to do things for people whom you love and who express love and appreciation back to you? I can recall certain people who I aimed to please and hated to disappoint – my parents, several of my teachers, some of my friends, and certain people I worked for. I wanted to do my best for them, and I usually did things with enthusiasm (ok – maybe not so much the homework and chores). I can also summon to mind people for whom it was difficult to work. I might do what they asked, but it was because I felt I had to. You know what the general difference between those two groups is? I was loved and appreciated by the first, and it was their love that motivated me to do my best and to try to not disappoint. With the other crowd, I did things simply to avoid punishment or unpleasant results. There wasn’t a loving relationship built in that caused the work to be joyful. When you are dealing with others, whether it is your children, your spouse, a friend, boss, coworker, or neighbor, remember the truth God teaches us: love is the most powerful motivator. When we love someone, we can be moved to do things that appear insane to others. That’s the love God has for us. He’s given it to you, and now you can share it with others. Love, not fear of punishment, is what brings our souls alive.
Father, let Your love for me motivate me to do whatever it is You ask of me today, and may my love for You flow over into the lives of others.
SATURDAY, June 16
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:3-4
Have you ever heard anyone wonder, “I just wish God would show me what He wants me to do with my life”? The question has good intent, often budding from a desire to live a life that pleases God. But sometimes we just get too hung up on “what does God have planned for me?” and forget that God has already given us direction for our daily lives. Now that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to discover and use the abilities and spiritual gifts He has given us, but we also don’t have to wait around to do His will until we have them figured out. God’s will for your life isn’t hidden from you; it’s in His holy Word. This is what He says, in 5 words: “Love me by loving others.” That’s God’s will for each of our lives. That is a daily joy that keeps us grounded, for every day that we try to love, we also realize how hopeless our efforts are without Christ’s love in us. Jesus had a purpose in His life of going to cross for us, but His daily life was filled with loving the people around Him, bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. We are told to follow Jesus’ example. So, rather than wasting time thinking about God’s will for your future life, use the time God has given you today to love Him by loving the people He places in your path. And remember – those loving deeds are not in vain, and they will last into eternity, for in Christ we have “overcome the world.”
Lord of glory, You have bought us with Your lifeblood as the price, never grudging for the lost ones that tremendous sacrifice. Give us faith to trust You boldly, hope, to stay our souls on You; but, oh, best of all Your graces, with Your love our love renew!