Don’t Be Like Cain!
(1 Jno. 3:11-18)
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers,[a] that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 Jno. 3:11-18
Love has never been absent from God’s requirements. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love your family. Love your brethren. Love the truth. This is a constant throughout the dispensations of God’s revelation to man. And this passage contains what might be called “the language of obligation.” John wrote that “we should love one another,” and “we should not be like Cain.”
Cain had an internal problem before the external action. Jealousy and anger was nurtured in his heart and without penitent response, he acted, murdering his brother. John gives an example of what we must not do. Build into this what Jesus said about being angry with your brother (Matt. 5:21-29), and what Paul said: “Be angry and sin not,” (Eph. 4:26). Much good work is done toward the authentic practice of love when we keep our hearts clean and pure.
Love is defined here in these powerful words about the Lord, who “laid down his life for us.” I need to be like the Lord, not Cain, and make certain I’m engaged in love, not just in word but in deed and in truth.