Test #4 Loving my Brother
1 John 2:9 – 11
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.
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
In the last post, we dealt with three concepts that John addresses in this epistle. Justice, love and faithfulness.
John starts out with the believers claim of abiding in the light and yet hating his brother. It is, John warns us, a false claim. Hating a brother in antithetical to Christian life. Golly, the Master has told us to love our enemies. Love, in its proper understanding is the very heart of God, and is to be the heart of the believer.
But lets consider this issue of stumbling. If we love our Brother, there is no cause for stumbling. I assume John is saying that hating my brother is the cause of stumbling, at least in this context.
Quite a while ago, I came over another verse that made a similar claim.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Let’s consider what it means “to stumble”. John uses the greek term σκάνδαλον skandalon when he speaks of stumbing in this verse.
The term refers to a trap or a snare, an impediment to cause tripping. Occasionally the term refers to the Master Himself, in relation to those who were blind and unwilling to repent.
Life is full of these traps, and by the deception of the enemy, these traps may appear to be justifiable in the believers thinking.
Let me give you an example.
A neighbor once became antagonistic to our family, and his hatred centered on my sweet little wifey. He drug us into court over crazy claims and personally sought to intimidate us. This went on for a number of years and we had friends that counselled us to retaliate in one way or the other.
Thinking without the guidance of the Word, we could have retaliated justly in our thinking. He started it. He was the one who spread lies about us, and the neighbors we were close to. He deserved to be opposed!
It just so happened (providentially don’t you know) that we were reading through the story of David and Saul, and how David would not retaliate on Saul. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, was a phrase that kept coming up. Love your enemy.
Can I say we never fell into a hatred of our neighbor. Not! Absolutely I was weak. But as the Lord supplied strength, we came out of this period seeing the Lord deliver us from this neighbor, and heard many stories of His justice being enacted on this poor man.
But I want to confess something.
Our effort to love this neighbor during this time was a bit weak. We didn’t retaliate in any way, other than sometimes slipping into vile gossip, but we were not very proactive either. Being friendly when seeing him on the sidewalk, offering a meal or giving a gift (like a big ol apple pie?) may have been a good start.
Let us not think that the demands of the Master are of no impact on our lives. I often considered the offer of grace to be a relief from the burden of the ten commandments. In some ways, the burden is greater, since the requirement is to obey the spirit of the law and not simply the letter of the law. With the same breath, I also want to remind us to learn of Him.
Matthew 11:29 – 30
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
He is the One to look to for all things. Help me O Lord in making Your will my focus.
I hope you found a truth that was helpful in your life within this post. Drop me a line, or send this post to a friend that you thought of recently.