It’s often said that newborn babies are more likely to look like their dads than their mums. This seems a little unfair given all that the mums have gone through! In today’s reading the apostle John wrote to fellow believers, and he again affectionately described them as little children. John’s desire is that, as God’s children, they’d look like their heavenly Father!
In our readings last week, John was concerned that these believers would be deceived by false teachers. This led to John’s plea in 1 John 2:28 that they would remain in God. John took them forward to think of Jesus’s wonderful return and saw two possible responses: confidence in Christ or shrinking away in shame.
When we become Christians we’re born again, born spiritually and adopted as children of God (see also John 1:12-13). We reside with God, and His tender father-like care and guidance changes us. John emphasizes that, because of the Father’s love, we can be sure we are God’s children, both now and for eternity! How amazing! John continued by saying there is even more to come – what we will be has not yet been fully revealed. We will be made like Christ! These blessings are not earned but graciously given to those who believe.
Therefore, the everyday lives of those who know the lavish love of their heavenly Father, are transformed. God’s love overflows, from Him – to us – and on to those around us. This should be visible. As our future hope is secure in God we can: live lives of purity, practice righteousness (behavior that pleases God), focus on God, and love our fellow Christians.
The love the early church had for one another was a fantastic witness to the world around them. What about our love, our doing good, for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
We aren’t perfect yet, so we must also remember 1 John 2:1-2 that if we do sin, Jesus is our advocate and atoning sacrifice. While we often make mistakes, living for God often becomes easier with practice.
I’ve never been a runner, but I joined a group in January undertaking a nine-week running program to go from no running at all, to running 5km (around 3 miles). It involves three runs a week. The first week I struggled to complete the one-minute run. By practicing with others, getting comfortable running shoes and receiving some helpful instruction, I’ve been able to complete it! This is also true for our Christian lives. What we practice – either righteous living or sin – changes where we will be in our walk with God: enjoying fellowship with Him; or, seeking to hide from Him.
I love my kids dearly, even when they do something wrong or hurtful. There are consequences, but my love for them never wavers. Yet with God I can be plagued with thoughts like “How could God still love me if I am still struggling with this sin or have fallen again?” This causes me to want to withdraw and hide from Him. Yet, our heavenly Father cherishes us as dearly loved children. If we humbly confess our sin to Him, seeking His grace and mercy, He will forgive and transform us.
There is a danger of misreading 1 John 3:6-9 to say if we ever sin we aren’t God’s children. While it is true God’s children are shown by their actions, John highlighted that the change in our desires is our desire for sin or for righteousness. Before becoming Christians, our sinfulness didn’t upset us the same way it does now. But now, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God reveals our sinfulness, graciously bit by bit, and He gives us the strength to live transformed lives. We cannot be happy to keep on sinning when God reveals our sinfulness.
This is also why our heavenly Father lovingly gives us instructions in the Bible: they are for our good. Just as my children need boundaries to live freely, so do we as God’s children. Our perfect Heavenly Father, who made us, knows what is best for us, even when we cannot see it. He sees danger where we don’t. He tells us how we can live in community with others. He is working out His plans and purposes, even through us! How great is our God!
Surely, we should want to respond to all our loving heavenly Father has done for us by desiring to live lives that please and reflect Him.
How much do you look like your heavenly Father?
Week 2 Challenge:
Week 2 Reading Plan
Week 2 Memory Verse