1 John 3:11-15
Love One Another
Here we learn from the John what we have read in other places and which we saw perfectly displayed in the life of our Lord—that we should, indeed must, love our brothers (“brothers” including sisters as well). Indeed, like “practicing righteousness,” love is one of the proofs of our regeneration as the Apostle stated at the end of verse ten: “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” (italics added).
In today’s passage, John provides a negative example for us indicating how NOT to love one’s brother—and that example is Cain. It is interesting that this example comes from the most ancient time, indeed, the very first sibling rivalry, and is a story replayed throughout the history of the world from Romulus and Remus to modern revolutions. But the “brothers” in view here are first and foremost those within the Church and secondarily those outside.
Anyway, that apostolic message which they had heard from the beginning, which goes to the very heart of the gospel, is that believers are to love one another—not a feeling or warm fuzzy but a heartfelt desire to see to the welfare of the other to the point of willing and cheerful self-sacrifice if need be. Cain was obviously not of this persuasion. “And why?” the Apostle asks. “Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous,” that is, sheer envy over his brother’s acceptance with God and his own rejection which was rooted in an unbelieving and sinful heart.
And this is why the world hates us. Like Abel, we have been received by the Lord’s hand; He accepts our sacrifice as we abide in him loving our brothers. Indeed, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” As was said above, such a desire to see to the well-being of our brothers, which then even spills over unto all people, is a genuine sign of our conversion. And if we hate someone—anyone—this is a sign that our conversion is questionable. Granted, we are not to love the world—the things of it, the temptations, all that excites our lust and pride—these we must hate as they lure us away from God. But we must never hate people, including pagans, for we must remember that we too were once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). We have been loved and must now love in return.