John cautions us, God’s children, about how our lives are to be a reflection of Him. Those who are His children practice righteousness. Those that don’t aren’t His children.
There is a difference between messing up and committing a sin and practicing sin. One is an occasional happening that is addressed right away while the other is a habitual practice. Yes! We are going to make mistakes and slips into sin. But when we “live there” and refuse to walk away from sin, we do not belong to Him.
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (verse 10). “Practicing righteousness” is not how you become God’s child but it is evidence of the changed life of God’s children.
Why is this? Because “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (verse 9). God’s seed makes all the difference. For the same reason two blue eyed people cannot produce a brown eyed child, a child of God cannot live a life of habitual sin. It is not in the “genes.” To borrow a phrase from my aunt’s pastor; “An apple tree doesn’t make apples to prove it is an apple tree; it makes apples because it’s an apple tree.”
It is the nature of an apple tree to produce apples as much as it is in the nature of a child of God to desire to live a righteous life. A BIG part of the nature of a child of God is love. Love for God, love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and love for the hurting world.
Jesus calls us to love and God’s seed in us allows us to do it. Those who don’t aren’t His children. Does this mean that we never get angry with one another or have disagreements? No. It means that our anger and differences don’t KEEP us divided. We seek reconciliation and unity instead. We seek His will and His understanding instead of our will or “asserting our rights.”
We also pray for the one(s) who hurt us, just like Jesus did. Jesus loved even the soldiers who were nailing Him to the cross enough to pray for them at the time. I believe His prayer also included the members of the Sanhedrin. They were being used by God for our ultimate good but were totally deceived by Satan at the time. This didn’t stop His love for them but it changed how He could relate to them in that moment. Yes, MANY of them would still continue to reject Him, but that didn’t ever change His heart to the point of not asking God to reach out and touch them.
Jesus also didn’t put Himself in the path of His abusers either. He went about the business of His Father. When this caused their paths to cross, He didn’t shy away from sharing the message and confronting their sin, but He didn’t seek them out to shout in their face. He lived His life openly as a testimony to the Father’s love. He didn’t have to stand on the street corner and draw attention, His everyday life was enough to get the people to come to Him instead. And He followed His Father’s lead in when to stay back and when to push forward in the battle.
Father God, there are people I have trouble “loving.” They are the ones who hurt others intentionally. I don’t know any personally that I don’t pray for You to show Your love to them, but I know some I don’t want to associate with because I don’t love their lifestyle. Does this mean that I don’t love them? I don’t believe I would turn my back on them if they asked for my assistance but I also don’t seek them out to offer it either.
I was just thinking about the people who hold signs on the street corners or approach me in the parking lot asking for money. How should I respond to them? I know You love them as MUCH as anyone else, including the BEST Christian. I don’t have the means to help ALL of them and I have been rebuffed by some by the offers that I have tried to give. My husband has such a heart that if he is eating or drinking something at the time we pass someone in this condition that he wants to give them his food/drink. I usually hold back and wait until I feel the Spirit tell me to give instead. How many times have I missed giving when told to do so because I didn’t “feel it” strong enough? I know Jesus didn’t heal EVERY person He saw. There were MANY people at the Pool of Bethesda who didn’t get healed the day Jesus healed the one man who had been there a long time. I’m CERTAIN it wasn’t because He didn’t love the rest of them, but they weren’t who He was called to minister to that day.
Please help me be sensitive to Your prompting, no matter how quiet it is or how busy I am. This goes for living a “righteous life” by avoiding sin as well as showing Your love to others. I TRULY want to love like You do. And if nothing else, remind me to pray for those whom I don’t associate with because of life choices. They are precious in Your sight and I want to love them too, just like You do.