1 John 3: 11-24 – The World in Front of the Text

We’ve been looking this week at 1 John 3: 11-24.  Today we’ll be looking at the world in front of the text of this passage, specifically verses 11-17:

11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. 16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

rootedchristWhen I read this passage, I keep coming back to the reference to Cain, it really seems in some ways like a detour, even in light of John earlier writings in the Gospel, he’s never been one to plum the depths of Jewish or Old Testament history for points to make about Jesus, that’s always been more the domain of Matthew.  For John here, we see that Cain, the root of his murder was the fact that he grew to hate his brother Able.  That hatred of him grew and gave birth to murder.

Sin always starts with that small spark of temptation, that grows and gives birth into something completely destructive.  The root of Cain’s problem with Able actually had very little to able to with Able.  Able offered his gift to God and God accepted it.  Cain offered his and it was rejected.  Able offered to God his best, Cain offered what was left. Able in his actions were not in any way seeking to reject Cain, his offering had nothing to Cain.  It was between him and God.  But yet, Cain too offense and that offense lead eventually to Able’s murder.

Sin was birthed in that small moment of offense. Guard your heart against that today. Guard your heart against taking offense at others for no reason, or for reasons that have nothing to really do with you.

We see in the end, what actually tripped Cain up. He loved his possessions more than God because scripture tells us that the offerings that he gave to God were the parts left after he took what he wanted.  Those of us who have been blessed, who have much, if we see someone in need, especially as the text says, a fellow sibling in Christ, we have to love them enough to help them, we have to value them enough to help them.  They are worth more than any possession. They matter.

Let’s guard our hearts today against offense and against attachment to stuff that doesn’t matter. Let’s love, and Christ commanded us. Let’s live our His love and grace today.

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