In her book What’s in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre pointed out: “The word ‘kindness,’ related to ‘kin,’ descends directly from the Old English gecynde, meaning ‘with the feeling of relatives for each other.’ Kindness extends our impulse to share with and care for others beyond the claims of the family we recognize as kin to those who have only the claim on us of their fellow humanity and their need. Kindness takes seriously that the children of God are in very fact brothers and sisters.”
Walking in the light means showing love for our fellow Christ-followers. Knowledge and obedience must go hand in hand (vv. 3–6). To know God means to keep His commands means to embrace and live by His truth means to love Him means to imitate Christ. The reverse is also true. These sets of meanings are inseparable.
Love is completed by obedience. Or to put it another way, God’s love moves us toward obedience. If this is not the case, then we neither truly know nor love Him. This is not a new idea, since loving God and one’s neighbor was already the greatest commandment. Yet at the same time it is a new idea, because Christ’s redemptive sacrifice has made possible a depth of love and unity that was not possible before. He is the hinge of history. “The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (vv. 7–8).
Love for God also means love for fellow believers (vv. 9–11). If we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we neither truly know nor love God either. In part, this means we can help one another toward more holiness (not stumbling) and seeing clearly, which is spiritual wisdom.
Though it has been overused, the phrase “what would Jesus do?” remains a very useful way of thinking about the Christian life. To walk in the light means to imitate Jesus (v. 6). What would He do in our situation? If you’re not sure, this is the kind of wisdom God delights to give (James 1:5).