Specific Text - 1 John 3:16-20
One of the most common questions we get as pastors from people is "How can I know that God has saved me?" One of the reasons people like us struggle with this question is because we hear the awesome stories of people experienced massive conversions in their lives - one day their life revolved around sex, drugs and rock & roll, and then BAM, the Holy Spirit came into their life and they were born again into a totally different lifestyle.
That didn't happen to you, though, did it. You've known Jesus for as long as you can remember, and your life doesn't seem much different now than what it ever has before. So how can you really tell if God's love is in you, or if you're just like the rest of the world?
John writes very poetically and beautifully, but we can understand it a bit easier if we simplify his points:
Jesus Christ defines what it means to love;
Since He loved you, you must love others;
If you don't have pity on those in need, God's love is not in you;
So don't just say you have God's love, show it by loving others (helping meet their needs);
By loving others you can know that God loves you.
It's just that simple. Putting the needs of others ahead of your own is totally contrary to our sinful nature, therefore the only way you can do that is by experiencing God's grace.
But there are two problems with this logic. First, lots of non-Christians experience God's grace and then share it with others, often much more than what we do, but yet they do not have God's saving grace. Secondly, our hearts are often plagued with doubt, and the accuser (Satan) is always trying to convince us that we haven't loved enough.
That's why verse 20 is so awesome. Seeing God's love at work in your actions is certainly evidence that His love is in your heart, but your confidence comes in knowing the one who is greater than your heart. Your hope doesn't come from looking within yourself, but by looking to Christ, they author and perfecter of your faith.
Loving others like what He did results in two things: it glorifies Him, and gives you confidence that you belong to Him.
Prayer For The Day: Dear Father, help me to love others the way that you loved me. Help me to notice the opportunities to share your love, and thank you that as I share your love and peace with others, you are sharing your peace and confidence with me.