• Tony Birkhead

HOPE IN ACTION



Hope in Action is Love!

Hope is not an emotion. Hope is not something you are born with or without. Hope is learned and taught and practiced. Hope is available and can be attained. One author wrote this… Hope is not an emotion; it’s a thought process made up of goals, and pathways. That means Hope can occur but it has to be sought and made a part of your life. When hope is put into action it looks like love! This week we’ll see what this love looks like.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (1 John 3:11-24)

1. What was the first thing you fell in love with? Who was your first love?

2. Do you think that we, even as Christians, sometimes confuse what love is and love isn’t? Why or why not?

3. Why do you think love is such a defining mark of the true disciple of Jesus? What does the presence or absence of love communicate about our faith?

Love is perhaps the most defining characteristic of the true disciple of Jesus. When we love, as God defines love, we show that we have truly experienced the love of God in Christ. Conversely, hate is a mark of inauthenticity. John acknowledged the existence of hatred, but also claimed that the expression of true love is evidence of an authentic salvation in Christ.

4. Why was Cain’s offering rejected by God? Why was Abel’s offering pleasing to God? Read Hebrews 11:4 for additional insight. What does Cain’s response to God reveal about his attitude (v. 5)?

5. What, according to these verses, are the components of true love?

6. Why is true love sacrificial in nature? What kinds of things does love require us to sacrifice?

7. Why is true love always demonstrated and not just verbalized? If we only verbalize love, what does that mean about the manner in which we love?

8. What does our demonstration of love do to our consciences according to these verses? Why might love assure our consciences?

9. Do you think we try and complicate the Christian life more than John does in verse 23? Why do you think we do that?

From time to time, all of us wonder about our own authenticity. As we look deeply into our hearts, it is disturbing to see the mixed motives and propensity for sin we find there. But thankfully, we are not kept in faith by our own ability, but by God who is greater than any guilty conscience. When we doubt, we remind ourselves that we have received the love of God once and for all through Jesus. It’s then that this love not only assures us, but makes us obedient. When we obediently desire what God desires, we can ask for whatever we want in His name.

MOVING FORWARD

Love requires putting Jesus above everything and everyone else, including personal and family concerns. What Jesus expects of you is the same as what He expected of His first disciples. Evaluate your priorities and adjust any that are out of sync with putting Him first. That’s what Jesus expects of all His disciples.

  • How does this text help you see the true nature of love? How does this passage encourage you when you see the hatred of the world?

  • Who in your life is most challenging to love like this right now? What are some tangible ways you can practice this kind of love?

  • Are you being condemned by your conscience this week? How can you remind yourself that God is greater than your conscience?

COMMENTARY

1 John 3:11-24

Before learning what love is, we read what love is not. We should not be like Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel, because Cain’s actions were evil, while Abel’s were righteous. Abel’s righteousness apparently engendered profound resentment—anger great enough to prompt murder. Just as Cain resented Abel’s righteousness, so the world will resent our righteousness. As a result, just as Cain hated Abel, so the world will despise Christians.

True Christians, those born of God, have love for their brothers placed in their hearts by the Lord, so that we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Loving our brothers does not give us eternal life. If we have eternal life, we will manifest it by loving our brothers. Next in the succession of challenging declarations is that anyone who does not love remains in death; if anyone hates his brother, he is a murderer; and no murderer has eternal life in him. This verse treats hate and murder the same as “sin” in verses 6 and 9. A Christian might hate or murder someone, but if this happened, he or she would be overcome with remorse. If a person is willing to harbor habitual hate, or have no remorse at murder, that person is not a Christian.

In stark contrast to this unspeakable hatred is Jesus’ remarkable love. We can understand what love is by looking at Jesus’ example. He laid down his life for us. We ought to be prepared to do the same for one another. While the necessity of laying down our lives for one another is rare, the necessity of helping meet one another’s needs is not. The true test of a Christian’s love is not his words (loving with words or tongue) but his willingness to sacrifice for the sake of his brother … to love with actions and in truth.

In our desire to live lives of high moral character and good deeds toward others, we will fail. When this happens, our hearts may condemn us. But we can rest in his presence, for God knows everything. He knows that we believe in Christ, that we strive to love our brothers, and that we regret falling short. God does not look only at the outer facts of imperfect love, but at the inner fact of having been born of God. The human heart is not the final standard. Rather, God is! God’s power keeps us secure in him. We may silence our condemning hearts in two ways: (1) by confessing our sin (1:8) so that we are forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness, and (2) by resting in the fact that God knows all things, looking not just at our deeds but at our hearts. Once our hearts no longer condemn us, we can have confidence before God.

As Christians, we must believe in Jesus and love one another. These two ideas stem from the same attitude of the heart, and John sees them as one command. To do one is to do the other. Those who obey God’s commands live in him, or abide in him. Similarly, John 15 links abiding with obeying (15:9–10).

#family #love #legacy

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