Walking in Love

Walking in the Light  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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“Walking in the light” demands that we love each other. The 1st letter of John doesn’t leave any other choice.


Is Philadelphia Still the City of Brotherly Love?

We all know that the city in the United States that is associated with brotherly love would be Philadelphia. However, most football fans know that it is one of the toughest crowds in the nation. Visiting teams would not call it a ‘loving place’. My own personal experience driving through the city was advice from the commander next to me (who was a former resident) not to stop.
But history has been much kinder to the city. A Quaker by the name of William Penn visited the city in 1682 and signed a peace treaty with the local Indians. Together they established a tradition of tolerance and human rights. When slaves began to arrive in 1684, tensions began to arise. 4 years later Philadelphia was the first to protest slavery and resulted in the 1688 Germantown Petition Against Slavery. Philadelphia later became home to Benjamin Franklin, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell. Philadelphians were the first to hear the Declaration of Independence.
Philadelphia has a great history and a great name, but a name doesn’t make anything true. Shakespeare famously said, “A rose is a rose no matter what the name”. If it has the beautiful flower of a rose, the green leaves, and the spiny stems – it is a rose. Of course, if the plant has no characteristics of the rose, it is not a rose even if you call it a rose. In the same way, Christians are much better identified by the characteristics that they show then by the name ‘Christian’.
We have been studying what it means to ‘Walk in the light’. We have seen that it means that we understand the light vs dark truth and we understand that Christian obedience is a requirement. In the writing of the Apostle John, we also learn that walking in the light has a requirement of loving others. These are the characteristics that define what it means to “walk in the light” or to be a Christian.

Walking in the Light Requires Compassionate Love

When the subject of love comes up, we often immediately jump to ideas of romantic love, especially around Valentine’s day. This morning we will be considering the idea of compassionate love – love for one another. Let’s look at what the Apostle John teaches:
1 John 2:7–11 NIV
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
John has a way of eliminating the option for us to live in the grey areas. We can choose light or dark. We can hate or love. We can stumble or not stumble. We have clear choices but living in the gray area of sometimes and “maybes” doesn’t exist.

God Loves Us. Yes! Jesus Loves Us. Yes! But now it is up to us!

John introduces the reality that he is not really stating anything new. The OT and Jesus Himself directed us to love others.
The levitical torah enjoined God’s people to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Lv. 19:18). When John speaks of an old command, which you have had since the beginning, he is probably meaning that this same instruction was among the first that they were given at the start of their Christian lives, and that we never outgrow it.
Jesus himself taught that the law and the prophets were all summed up in the law to love God and one’s neighbour (Mt. 22:37–40). The apostle Paul echoed that ‘the entire law is summed up in a single command, “Love your neighbour as yourself” ’ (Gal. 5:14). So when John comes to the same conclusion, he knows that he is saying nothing new. There is nothing very novel about that sort of self-giving love; it is basic. It explains why he addresses his own readers as dear friends, more literally ‘loved ones’. Love is basic.
Yet Jesus did call it a new commandment (Jn. 13:34), and John seems to be remembering that in verse 8a. Perhaps the ‘newness’ relates to the fact that its truth is seen in him. For the only time in the history of the world that that command was lived out was in the human life of Jesus Christ, with a depth and reality no-one would otherwise have ever glimpsed or imagined. Though the command was old it was never out of date, and in Christ it was both renewed and fulfilled in the most complete way possible.
But the real surprise comes in the next two words, and you. That is staggering. We may wonderingly accept that the command to love was seen to be fulfilled in Jesus—but in us?[1]

Loving Others is a Key to Success

I’ve been in the same house now for 16 years. I can manage my way through without the lights on. However, if we are on the road and staying somewhere unfamiliar, I am sure to have some way to illuminate my pathway in the dark.
John makes one thing very clear – loving others, showing compassionate love, offers a clear pathway for the Christian. He uses a really simple analogy.
1 John 2:9–11 NIV
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
- ‘living in the light’ means to love others. The benefit is that life’s pathway is clear.
- ‘living in the dark’ means that you hate others. The result is stumbling in the dark.
What does it mean to ‘hate’ others? Are we ‘hating’ those who are narcissists or anarchists, people who commit violent crimes or instigate genocides or international wars? In this use, the word hate means “To strongly dislike or have aversion toward someone or something that usually results in separation between the one who hates, and the thing hated.”[2] The definition doesn’t mention narcissists, criminals, dictators, or international criminals. It mentions those having a ‘strong dislike’ or ‘aversion’ that results in separation.
Sadly, some of our decisions have left us walking in the dark. Instead, we need to forgive so that we can be walking in the light once again. This brings up a great question…

What is Forgiveness?

There are misunderstandings related to this action, so it is necessary for us to understand exactly what the Bible says about forgiveness.
1. The words used in the Bible for "forgive" or "forgiveness" NEVER mean to forget.
This is an obstacle that the devil uses to entrap people in the unending web of bitterness. The fact is that once we have been wronged, it is unlikely that we can consciously forget what happened. Our brains are designed to retain the memories of life- changing events, including the negative experiences.
2. Forgiveness is NOT an action that absolves the perpetrator of guilt.
Whatever the wrong was, forgiveness does not free the perpetrator from judgment (both physical and eternal).
3. “Cleaning Our Side of the Street”
Forgiveness is NEVER earned by the perpetrator. Sometimes we assume that we cannot forgive someone until the person repents. Obviously, this is the ideal situation, but the fact is that forgiveness is not a reaction to repentance. Forgiveness is a choice the victim makes independently, and it is a decision that is made, not based on the merits of the perpetrator, but rather on the basis of the mercy or grace of the victim.
Instead, forgiveness is a decision that releases you from the right for retribution. Forgiveness conjures up images of a courtroom. The offender is guilty, but as the victim, you release the guilty party from your right for vindication. This does not mean that the guilty party will receive a pardon, because you are not the judge who holds the position of authority that makes the final judgment. Ultimately, forgiveness frees us from the emotional need for resolving the situation within our own means, and then trusting God that He will resolve the situation as He sees fit. Of course, this is the challenge that we all face. To trust God in handling justice when we have been wronged requires a step of faith on our part.
4. We are commanded to Forgive
Matthew 6:14–15 NIV
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Mark 11:24–26 NIV
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Since our desire is to walk in the light, we will certainly face the issue of forgiveness. Some of us have issues of unforgiveness that have expiration dates that have expired long ago. It is time to take care of those issues. Some of us have issues of unforgiveness going on right now. Don’t stumble around in the dark anymore – forgive!

Your Benefits to Loving Others

I think we are forced to choose light or dark – to love or to hate. John mentioned that the light helps us to see where we are going, we aren’t stubbing our toes in the dark. Some benefits of loving others compassionately could be…
- Feeling of joy
- Experiencing peace
- Decreases depression and anxiety
- Reduces pain
- Increases a sense of well-being
- Reduces blood pressure
- Serving others increases longevity
- Boosts the immune system
- Relieves loneliness
- Increases self-love and confidence[3]
The list is virtually endless. Often, we don’t realize the benefits of the light when we are walking in it.
We don’t get the option to love some, ignore others, and hate the rest. It is not ‘on the table’.

Loving One Another

John’s letter has a way of circling around and around with his topics. A few chapters later John reintroduces the topic of love:
1 John 4:7–21 NIV
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
I’m going to leave you with some homework. We are all living out life together right now. We know that loving others is not always easy. These verses provide some keys to walk in the light and I suspect we will need to remember them and exercise them over and over again.
So, take time this week to remember…
- God’s grace helps us to love others when it seems difficult
- Awareness that Christ loved us first. Because He loves, we should love.
- We can’t make love complete in our lives, but the Spirit can. Surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.
[1]Jackman, D. (1988). The message of John’s letters: living in the love of God (pp. 52–53). InterVarsity Press. [2]Robinson, A. (2014). Abhorrence. In D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Lexham Press. [3] https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Why-Cant-We-Love-Each-Other
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