Our Epistle this week is 1 John 3:16-24.
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. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
John tells us something absolutely amazing – “if our hearts condemn us, we know God is greater than our hearts” (v. 20). He reminds us that no matter how badly we fail, God is ready to forgive us when we go to Him in faith. This is the most wonderful promise of all, that Jesus came to save us all from all our sin.
When we accept His forgiveness, we turn from sinful ways and follow His example. Our actions are a response to the love and compassion shown to us, not a payback or a quota of good deeds to be accomplished. Jesus forgave the thief crucified beside Him (Luke 23:43), knowing that he was about to die and would never go to do good deeds.
It’s not about what we do, but what Jesus has done for us. We can never repay His sacrifice, but we have the opportunity to live as He did, loving God and each other. In this way we honor the gift we have been given, salvation in His name.
Gracious God, we are grateful for Your plan to save us from our sin. Help us to live for You, forgiving others as we have been forgiven. Amen.