7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before.
8 Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.
9 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.
10 Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.
11 But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
1 John 2:7-11 NLT
“Light and darkness, love and hate cannot exist in the same person. This is typical of John’s black or white statements. He expresses the ideal! Often, however, believers struggle with prejudice, unlove, and neglect! The gospel brings both an instantaneous change and a progressive change.” (Bob Utley)
Living in the light means to have continual fellowship with God, the source of light, love, and truth. Living in darkness means to live apart from the influence of God’s character, being blinded by one’s own self-sufficiency and the ideology of the god of this age.
Darkness has its own power to blind a person from seeing or desiring the glory of God. They become like the fish in Echo River (Mammoth Cave, KY) who live beyond the influence of light. They have eye-sockets, but no eyes to see.
We all have so much to learn about loving well. When we want to see the best example of loving others, we look at the life of Jesus who lived perfectly in our imperfect world. Here are some contrasts between living and loving in the light of Jesus and living in the darkness of religion or self-absorption:
Love affirms the best in others and overlooks the worst.
The spirit of religion magnifies the worst and overlooks the best.
Love builds up and does not tear down.
Envy tears down in order to build oneself up.
Love moves toward conflict with grace and mercy.
Self-protection disconnects or attacks.
Love is more concerned with relationship.
Self-righteous arrogance is more interested in being right.
Legalism disapproves, condemns and punishes.
Love sacrifices itself for the good of another.
Entitlement makes demands for itself.
Love can be trusted.
Flattery deceives and betrays.
“Flattery is the cockroach in the milk of human kindness.” (Unknown)
Love is honest and vulnerable.
Insecurity hides behind a mask, posing as good.
Love sees potential.
Judgment is disrespectful and critical.
Love gives freely and generously.
Control has strings attached with simmering resentment.
Love gives all.
Lust takes all.
Love responds to others.
Love makes one beautiful.
Vanity demands beauty.
Love offers freedom.
Possessiveness clutches tightly.
When love is crushed, grief and sadness exist alongside love.
When dependency is exposed, anger brings vengeance and vindictiveness.
Love is safe.
Divisiveness undermines and sows seeds of doubt and half-truths.
Love is the blanket that protects and covers.
Revenge is the weapon that exposes and destroys.
Presumption distorts, distrusts, and dictates.
Love offers peace and a sense of home.
Discord stirs up confusion and restlessness.
Let us then drop the works and deeds of darkness and put on the full armor of the light. Romans 13:12
That you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9b
If you struggle with prejudice, contempt, or hatred, spend more time in the presence of Jesus and give him access to the deepest, darkest parts of your heart. He will infuse his marvelous light into your heart and transform your thinking to reflect the beautiful mind of Christ.
AS YOU PRAY:
* Say, “I love you, Lord.”
* Thank God for bringing you out of the darkness into his light.
* Invite him to continue his transformational work in your life.