1 John 3:16-24
When we look closely at the offerings Cain and Abel offered to God, we see a glimpse of why Cain killed Abel. Abel, a shepherd, brought the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. To say it a bit differently, Abel brought the first born of his flock. Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. It wasn’t the first fruit, it was an offering of some of the fruit of the ground. Do we see why God had regard for Abel and his offering? Do we see why God had no regard for Cain and his offering?
Because God did not regard Cain’s offering, Cain became upset. God even told him to be aware of the sin at his door. Cain wouldn’t listen. After leading his brother out to the field, Cain killed Abel. Yet, the Abel’s blood cried out to the Lord. Cain becomes cursed by God and becomes a fugitive, a wanderer.
This episode dramatically shows the importance of obeying God’s commandments. Yes, we know Jesus’ commandment of love was given much later than Cain and Abel. However, with God loving Cain and Abel, they both knew how to love one another. Cain just didn’t love his brother. Cain sinned. We join Cain in sin when we don’t love one another. That is where the devil wants us. But God doesn’t want us to be like Cain, to sin. We can, however, love one another.
A. How do we know love?(3:14-18)
1. God has loved us (3:1)
2. We have become children of God (3:2)
3. So, we purify ourselves – we continue to turn from sin (3:3)
4. In Him we know love – in Jesus!
5. The works of the devil are being destroyed in our lives
6. We know love by doing what is right, loving other Christians
7. So, we no longer face death, but we have life
8. God has given us eternal life – we live this eternal life now as we love one another!
9. We lay down our lives for one another – just like Jesus laid down his life
10. As we bless this year’s sowing, we are asking God to bless the crop. What does loving one another have to do with this year’s sowing? When we receive the crop, we make sure we help those who are in need. We love one another by helping those in need. Why would helping those in need be important to us?
B. God knows we can love (3:19-24)
1. God knows we can love in truth and action
2. Our hearts are reassured about our faith when we obey God’s commandments
3. God reassures our hearts because God knows we are in Jesus/Him
4. If we are willing to believe in Jesus, then we are willing to please God
5. For believing in Jesus and loving one another are how we obey (3:23)
6. We live in Jesus as we obey God’s commandments
7. Christ lives in us as we obey God’s commandments
8. God reassures our hearts. Jesus lives in us. The Spirit is how we recognize this truth. The Spirit is how Christ’s actions are lived in us. God is already blessing us. As we pray for safety in the planting and harvesting of food, we are trusting God. As we work the planted fields, we are trusting God. For we know God is able to provide a harvest for us. A practical way for us to love as God has commanded is to make sure our neighbors are fed. This is what we can do with the harvest from our crops.
What greater way to be the children of God than to love one another! For as we live in Jesus, he lives in us. This eternal life we hope to have in the future is lived now as we obey Him who we believe. Asking for God to bless our work in sowing crops and gardens means we have the hope of obeying God with what He gives us.
We don’t want to be like Cain. Yet, when we allow sin, disobedience to the commands of God, to master us, then we will be like Cain. May we be like Abel who gave his best to God, regardless of what other people do to us. For pleasing God happens as we believe in Christ and obey God’s commandments.