Love Your Brothers
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling." - 1 John 2:9–11
During His earthly ministry, Jesus often dealt with His disciples’ love for others. Understandably, they often had trouble accepting the fact that they were to love their enemies, but the disciples also had difficulty understanding that they must truly and deeply love their Christian brothers and sisters. Peter, for example, tried to limit the times one must extend love and forgiveness toward his brothers when he asked Jesus if forgiving someone seven times was enough. Jesus, however, would put no limit on forgiveness and love, telling Peter that he must forgive a repentant offender an infinite number of times (Matt. 18:21–35).
Today’s passage makes it clear that the commandment we read about in 1 John 2:7–8 is the commandment to love our fellow Christians. One of the ways we can be assured we are in the light — that we know Christ — is we do not hate our brothers. If we do not love our fellow believers, we remain in the darkness of sin (vv. 9–11).
This commandment is both old and new (vv. 7–8). It is old in the sense that the people of God were commanded to love and forgive their brothers and sisters from their hearts long before John wrote this letter (Lev. 19:17–18; John 13:34). It is new “in him” (1 John 2:8) — in Jesus — meaning that the command to love others finds its fullest expression, definition, and example in the life and ministry of Jesus. As we are obedient to the Spirit, we will live out Jesus’ example by performing new acts of love toward others.
In Jesus we see the depth of love that we must extend to others. This depth is certainly revealed in the old covenant but is more clearly revealed in the new. Jesus defines love as forgiving others an infinite amount of times (Matt. 18:22) and in going the extra mile (5:41–42). Jesus Himself is the fullest expression of love since God is love (1 John 4:8), and Jesus is God (John 1:1). Jesus is the greatest example of love in that He laid down His life for the sake of His brothers (15:13).
Abiding in Jesus means walking in the way He walked (1 John 2:6). This means the command to love the brethren must be true in us as it is in Him (v. 8). Let us then love our fellow Christians.
When we are honest with ourselves, some Christians are easier to love than others. We all find certain people less offensive than others, and as a result, we will gravitate toward those we consider lovable. But Christ does not call us to love only those easy to love. After all, He Himself died for sinners. If we walk in the light we must love all of our fellow believers. Think of someone in your church whom you find difficult to love and seek to have fellowship with him today.
Passages for Further Study
- Zech. 8:17
- John 15:12–13
- Rom. 13:10
- 1 John 3:16–18
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