Parenting, more than anything else, has enabled me to see my weaknesses.
A few weeks ago, my youngest son was pestering his big brother. My oldest child asked him to quit and then, when his request went ignored, said in a voice that sounded A LOT like me, “What did I just say?” The moment the words left his mouth, I saw myself asking the same question to my son earlier that morning.
Have you ever seen this in your family? Have you ever witnessed your children doing something you know they learned from you?
Our kids become like us, for better or for worse.
Just as our kids often become like us, we can become like our Abba Father.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV)
We are children of the Living God! That’s an amazing thing to think about. The God who made the heavens and the earth calls us his children. The God who keeps our world in orbit loves us just as much – more, in fact – than we love our earthly children.
And what a privilege it is to try to be like Him!
So what does that look like? How should a child of God behave if he or she wants to be like Him?
More than anything else, it looks like love.
1 John 3 paints a clear picture of what our love should look like. It does this by providing two examples: one positive example of what TO DO and one negative example of what NOT TO DO.
What Love Is:
Verse 1 (quoted above) says that God has lavished His love on us by calling us His children.
The positive example of love that we are to follow is God’s love for us.
Look at verses 16-18 in the NIV:
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Love is action. It’s laying aside our desires for the needs and desires of another person. It’s noticing the needs of those around us and then helping to meet those needs.
What Love Isn’t:
Along with providing a positive example of what love is, this chapter also provides a negative example of what love isn’t.
Verse 12 reads, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.”
Then, to make sure we don’t assume this could never be referring to us because we have never murdered anyone, John adds in verse 15, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer.” (NIV)
Loving like our Father means NOT hating another person. It means forgiving them when they hurt us. It means letting go of bitterness and anger.
If we want to love like our Father, we can’t also hate a brother or sister.
The two cannot coincide. “Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister” (1 John 3:10).
The best way to know if you are being like your Abba Father is by looking at your love.
Do you love like He did, sacrificially giving of your time and resources to others? Do you slow down enough to notice the needs of those around you and then seek to meet those needs?
Or, are you so busy you don’t even notice…so strapped for money you can’t give…and so bitter over past hurts you can’t move forward?
Do you want to know if you look like your Father in Heaven? Then look at your love.
For Extra Study This Week:
- Read the entire chapter of 1 John 3. As you read, underline the word “love” every time you see it.
- Read James 2:14-17. How are these verses similar to 1 John 3 (specifically verse 18)?
- What are some specific ways you can love like your Father this week? Write down at least five ideas.