1 John 3:11-18 NIV
 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.  Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.  Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.  Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Dear God, I am glad that I went through the Gospel passages that referred to John so that I could learn a little more about him before getting to this letter. It’s important to remember what kind of person he was when he first met Jesus. Basically, he was self-righteous and vindictive. He was the one wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans for not wanting Jesus to pass through their territory. I can’t remember them off of the top of my head, but I know there were other examples too. Jesus had to directly teach him grace, mercy, and empathy and help him purge the self-righteous anger he felt for others.
So that’s the guy now who is trying to teach the lesson he learned. I suppose when I’m all done with this series on Peter and John, one of the things I should do is take what Jesus had to teach them individually as disciples and examine how those lessons informed the message(s) that each of them felt they needed to communicate to others. It goes back to the saying, “Our suspicions of others are aroused by the knowledge of ourselves.” What you have taught us is what we have to teach.
So what have you taught me over the last 30+ years of being a discipling Christian? I’ll tell you, I’m a humbler parent than I used to be and I’m much less judgmental towards other parents. You’ve taught me the importance of faithful time in scripture. You’ve taught me that the people I’m most tempted to judge are probably the ones who are most in need of my love and forgiveness (and your love and forgiveness). You’ve taught me that life is about one moment at a time spent in pursuit of you, and to not look to the future with any sense that I know what I’m talking about.
Father, those are just a few of the things you’ve taught me for which I’m grateful. And not that I’ve completely learned these lessons. I don’t mean to say that. Certainly I still judge others, fail to pursue you moment to moment, and I don’t always spend faithful time in scripture. But you have given me that message, and my prayer now is that you will help me to know how to live that message today.
In Jesus’ name I pray,