Vs. 3, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” We have been reminded God is love. He commanded us to love Him and to love others. We cannot separate the two; if we love God we will love others (vs. 1-4). John then strongly reminds us that it is Christ and His testimony that help us live right before God (vs. 5-12). There were many false teachers claiming their testimony was just as important or more (vs. 9). Jesus’ water and book (vs. 6) signifies the picture of His incarnation and ministry with us. Water is the baptism and blood is the cross. And to add to this, John reminds us the Holy Spirit also testifies of this truth (vs. 6-8). And if that were not enough, the testimony of the Father comes into play (vs. 9-12). In the latter half of our chapter, John concludes his letter by affirming that which he has shared throughout the letter (vs. 13-21). It’s important to note that John is expounding on outright deliberate sin (vs. 16-19). A true Christian is not going to say in their heart they could care less about the actions they do.
Regarding application…God Hears Us. Vs. 14, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Question: Does God hear us when we call upon Him? There days it seems like many don’t like answering their phones. Texting and social networking seems to be the most popular way to attempt contact. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but next to being face to face, I enjoy speaking with another person. We have all had times when we tried calling someone and they don’t pick up the phone. But when we call upon the Lord, he doesn’t send us to voicemail or command us to write out a long text message. He hears us. Brothers and sisters, this is an amazing fact that we should never take for granted. As 2013 is still very fresh in its beginnings, let us always call upon the Lord daily because He loves us and wants to spend time with us!
Vs. 2, “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.” As Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians, I really appreciate how he is humble in asking for prayers too (vs. 1-2). He reminds us that there is danger from the evil one, yet we can find protection in the Lord! We then are given one last big exhortation to the body of Christ: watch out for idleness (vs. 6-18)! Question: What was going on? Because the Thessalonians were being taught false doctrines about Jesus’ coming, many of them had given up working. They were waiting for the Lord’s return and living off the generosity of others. This extra time on their hands also contributed towards other things: more time to gossip, more time to get in trouble, more time to just be a disruption. Paul makes sure that we understand how important it is to respond the right way to such people. Also, while Paul had the right to receive support from the Thessalonians (vs. 7-10), he chose to forgo it for their own sake. In the end, we should deal wisely with our interactions with others in the church (vs. 14-15)
Regarding application…Don’t be Lazy. Vs. 11, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” I think we have all experienced this. We have a big clean-up day at church. Some people are working hard, while others are there, but kind of goofing around. It can frustrate the ones working hard, but Paul encourages them to not tire in doing good (vs. 13). As for the supposedly busy, Paul warns us not to associate with them. Perhaps you know the adage, “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Let’s be people who have a good work ethic, not for bragging purposes, but simply because it pleases the Lord! He know our hearts and let’s also show it through our actions!
Vs. 17, “This is my command: Love each other.” As Jesus and the disciples are leaving the Upper Room and heading over to the Garden of Gethsemane, He continues to teach them as they walk. As they are walking, they probably walked past the temple and were reminded of the doors engraved with vines. It is here that Jesus reminds the disciples of the picture of the vine as a symbol of our relationship with the Father (vs. 1-11). Question: What happens when we remain in Jesus? We grow into loving each other more (vs. 12-17). But, this wasn’t going to be an easy road. Just as Jesus had the mixture of Pharisee’s, scribes & Sadducees conspiring together through the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus and kill him, we too have a world that is not going to be tolerant of this faith (vs. 18-27).
Regarding application…Remain in Jesus. Vs. 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Question: What exactly is this fruit? The fruit that we bear is from the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, fruits of the Spirit) and also the fruit we bear when we share Christ (John 4, woman at the well). Question What does it mean to remain? Another word used by translators is “abide”, which gives us a picture of being in constant fellowship with Jesus. When we are connected to Jesus, we will naturally produce fruit. In my own life, there have been many times when I tried to do this fruit bearing on my own strength. But the more I learn about the Lord, the more I realize that in our weakness we are made strong. Let Jesus take this heart of ours and begin to change it from the inside out. Don’t get discouraged in this walk when it doesn’t seem to be working. Just keep your heart plugged into the vine!
Vs. 19, “We love because he first loved us.” True believers will love each other…it’s that simple folks. John goes on to mention about testing spirits….remember that the New Testament had not yet been completeted…so these young Christians would know if someone was false by what they claimed regarding Jesus. But the true sheep will recoginze the loving voice of their Shepherd. John also reminds us of the fact that we should never forget…Jesus died for us (vs. 9-11). When we remember this fact,God’s Holy Spirit can reside in us and His love fills us (Vs. 12-16). And when we live this kind of love, we need to never fear the final day of judgment…because love drives out fear (Vs. 18-19).
Regarding application…Loving Others = Command. Vs. 21, “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” This is not God pleading or hoping that we love. God is not politely asking us to love others. God is commanding us to love. It is shameful to bear the name of Christ in our lives if we are discriminately choosing who we love and who we ignore or even hate in our lives. People may say, “I tried…I just can’t love him or her because of what they did to me.” And the key word to that comment is “I”. When we try to love, it is impossible to love others. But when we surrender our lives over to the Lord, His love is so powerful and great that it will overflow in our lives. If Jesus thought the same way so many of us have…then none of us would be alive today. Question: Who do you need to show God’s love to? Go forth and love deeply in the name of Jesus!