John was the apostle of love. As Paul keeps telling us to be full of gratitude, John keeps exhorting us to “Love one another.”
Cain was a hater, and that led to murder. You can read that account in Genesis 4. Sin grew in him. John wants love for God and each other to grow and grow in us. That love grows even as the world demonstrates hatred more and more, especially to those who love the Lord.
So what does love look like. John gives us two practical examples:
- Love will lay down its life for others – both literally, at times, and figuratively. Love looks for others’ blessing more than our own. One of our group leaders expressed a fear that mature Christians would feel they are not being fed if the focus was on discipling new converts in the group. An evidence of maturity is love that lays down ‘my wants’ and focuses on loving and building up others. And, actually, you grow more when you pass on what you know anyway!
- Love is generous to the poor. If we have enough, and we see someone in need, love causes us to reach out and meet their need.
In verse 24 we learn that the Spirit abides in us. Yesterday we were challenged to abide in Him, and today we find that happens because He abides in us! That abiding presence of the Spirit is what grows and builds love in us.
Chapter 4 brings a gear change, as John seeks to protect us from the counterfeit. Every good gift from God, the enemy counterfeits. We have the prophetic gifts from God, the enemy has fortune telling and tarot and horoscopes. John shows us to test the spirit – does it acknowledge that Jesus is God. What is the source of spiritual power. Ultimately all spiritual power – yoga, reflexology, healing – have a source that is from God or the devil. God good, devil bad. So we test the spirit – does it acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. If not, then it is tapped into the wrong source.