During a lockdown in Vietnam to combat the COVID-19 virus, some people had difficulty obtaining enough food. In response, a Ho Chi Minh City businessman set up free “rice ATMs” to help. Anyone who needed it could withdraw (at no cost) one day’s worth of rice for a family. His idea caught on in other cities around the nation.
What a great practical example of love in action! In today’s reading, John initially explained love via its opposite, hate (vv. 11–15). Cain failed to love his brother, Abel, and instead murdered him out of envy. In the same way, the world will hate and envy us as followers of Christ because we’ve passed from death to life. Love and life are a matched set, as are hate and death.
The key to godly love is action (vv. 16–18). Words by themselves are not enough (see James 2:14–17). As always, Christ is the model we should imitate—He laid down His very life for us! How can we imitate this once-for-all event? By helping a brother or sister in Christ with our material possessions. A believer who fails to do so lacks God’s love and is thus the moral equivalent of a murderer. The phrase “has no pity” (v. 17) can be more strongly translated as “shuts off his compassion” or “closes his heart against him.”
Finally, the apostle expounded on how loving actions help reassure us of our status in Christ (vv. 19–24). Even if our (fallible) heart or conscience condemns us, one proof of our spiritual rebirth in Christ is that we’re able to show the love of Christ in action. This is not to our credit or glory but to God’s, for it’s the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in this way.
>> We’ve arrived at the same application as yesterday: How can you show the love of Christ to another person? Today, we encourage you to think specifically of helping in terms of material needs.