I don't know if you have this saying here in the Republic (common expression, meaning Republic of South Africa) or not, but in relation to getting married in the United States we do. This might be of particular interest to Tanya in a few years now. I'll get her blushing, and maybe even some of these other youngsters. Tom's got a pretty good stable of them over here that some of these days before too long, they'll be thinking about things like that as well --- Four in a row!
But in connection with getting married, over in the United States we have an old saying that they often say, the bride in preparation for the wedding she always is supposed to wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." Now I'm not sure as I said if you have that saying over here or not but I see by the nodding of the women folks that they do have that saying over here also. Well, that's the theme for our message today, the first part of that expression, "Something Old, Something New." Yes, "Something Old, Something New is our theme for this message."
Reading again in I John. Last Sunday night I spoke to you from I John. Let's turn again to that book for our message today, "Something Old, But Still New."
You know, as we begin to think about this together --- and by the way, before I forget it I want to remind you again, don't forget to keep a little stock of these invitation pamphlets with you and give them out every chance you get. You say, "Oh, but what if I'm in downtown Jo-burg (Johannesburg) and I see somebody?" Well, give it out down there, too. It's got a little bit of a salvation witness in the same pamphlet and so you'll be witnessing to them. And besides that, you don't know but what that person may move next door to our church next month.
So give it to them no matter where they are. Even if they live in Natal, give them one every chance you get. So be sure and take some of those with you now and see to it that you keep giving them out at every opportunity. It doesn't do any good to have all this good printed matter that we have now unless we keep putting it out, does it? So just be sure and take them with you and always use them every chance you get.
Now as we begin to think a little about our lesson today from the book of I John and about introducing the subject, let's first think along these lines --- John here is describing the life that is real. And by the way, that was my subject as you know last Sunday night. In describing the life that's real, he uses three words over and over throughout the book. He uses them many, many times in the book. But he uses these three words a lot in describing this life that's real.
First, he always uses the word life; L-I-F-E! He also uses the word love a lot in describing this life that's real; L-O-V-E! And he uses another word which is a very descriptive word relative to this life that's real and that is the word light; L-I-G-H-T! He uses these three words over and over. He explains that love and life and light belong together. You can't really have one unless you have all three. And that's an inseparable part of this life that is real. The key words are Life, Love and Light.
God has commanded us to love repeatedly in Scripture and especially and particularly in the book of I John. He has often commanded us to love. If we look at I John chapter 2, let's read there, beginning with verse 7, and we'll go down through verse 11.
2:7 "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning."
So he's making a big point here in the beginning of his discussion of this subject that this idea of love is not a new idea.
2:8 "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth."
Jesus has already come.
2:9 "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
2:10 "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
2:11 "But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
As we begin to think a little further about this, God has commanded us to love and He's done it from the beginning as John points out 7 through 11 of this chapter. And as we think a little further along this line we find the next step which immediately comes to mind is that we are born of God, if we're saved. And God's love lives in us. If we're truly born of God, then God who is love dwells in us and that means that His love dwells in us as well.
In verse 10 of chapter 3, we see a good verse on this where it says this, "In this the children of God are manifest." That means this is the way they are made plain. This is the way they are shown to other people. This is the way that you can identify them. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." If a man loveth his brother then he's going to do righteousness, isn't he? And if he doesn't love his brother then he's not of God, it says. That's plain enough that even a child can understand it.
Another thing that we need to remember is that this love is not just something that we pump up within ourselves. People try to do that sometimes. We all try to do these things sometimes. Just sort of like Brother Kitching was talking a while ago. He was kidding before church that before the service began he was going to get him a little rubber balloon thing here and put it inside of his vest --- he's a little bit skinny --- and going to put one inside of his vest and get him a little pipe up here where he could pump it up by blowing in it. And we try to do that about a lot of things in reality, don't we?
We sometimes pump ourselves up about this question of love. But if we're really saved and we've got the love of God in us then we don't have to pump ourselves up about the question of love, do we? We don't have to get that little pipe up here, as he was teasing about a while ago and blow it up to make our vest stick out and look more dignified. Well, if that adds to dignity, then I've got pretty good dignity right here! (Points at stomach). Right here in front. But we love because He first loved us. We need to recognize this.
If we look at chapter 4 and read verses 7 through 10, we find something interesting along this line. Remember, it says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
Now listen to this key verse --- verse 10.
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." So we love Him because He first loved us, don't we?
As we go a little further thinking along these lines and remembering who wrote the book here, John; Jesus earlier called John and James the sons of thunder. And, of course, this is a pretty appropriate name for them in some ways for John and James, as they seem to be the ones who were of that type of character. For example, over in Luke 9, if you'll look there sometime and read from verse 51 through 56, you'll see that they were the ones who once wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village. They said, "Aha, Lord, let's just call down fire from heaven. This bunch won't receive You here and they've even refused hospitality to the King of glory. So let's just call down fire and wipe out the village." That's what they said to the Lord there in Luke 9:51.
As we go a little further, in those days Jesus nicknamed John and James the sons of thunder. In spite of that, we now find John known as what all over the world? He's known as the apostle of love, isn't he? The apostle of love. Although back in the time when he was actually walking and talking with Jesus, he was known as one of the sons of thunder, a nickname given to him and to James by the Lord Himself. Today he's known as the apostle of love because of his teachings on love both in his gospel which he wrote and in his epistles. So there's quite a change here! From being known as one of the sons of thunder, one of the ones who wanted to call down fire from heaven and wipe out this village that was unfriendly to Jesus and wouldn't give them hospitality. It is quite a change from that to become known today all over the world as the apostle of love.
The commandment to love one another is not new. We said we were speaking on something old but still new. The commandment to love one another is not really new in time but it's new in character as it's given here. It is new in character --- because of Jesus the old command to love one another has taken on a new meaning, hasn't it? A much deeper meaning, a fresh meaning.
We learned in the five verses from 7 through 11 which we read earlier that the commandment is new in three different and very important ways.
First, it is new in emphasis. In verse 7 we find that. "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning." So he's re-emphasizing this old commandment, giving it a new and special emphasis.
Love is the fulfillment of the law, as Romans 13:10 tells us. Romans 13:10 says: "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Now if everyone totally refrained from working any ill to his neighbor, then there wouldn't be any problem about criminal law, would there? There would not be any problem about protecting one from the other with laws, either our present laws or the ten commandments or anything else. It wouldn't really be necessary if everyone all the time followed this idea of loving and working no ill to one's neighbor, which one would never do if one truly loved one's neighbor. So love is the fulfillment of the law.
Love causes one to obey God and to serve others. Not because of fear but because of love. Love is the most powerful factor in influencing men's actions. It is extremely powerful in determining men's actions. It causes us to obey God and to treat others fairly and properly and with love, to go that extra mile. Not because of fear, but because of love.
Love is commanded and enjoyed from the very beginning. Now what beginning are we talking about? We're talking about the beginning of Christian life, aren't we? Right from the very beginning of Christian life, love is commanded and enjoyed. If we read verse 7 again, we'll see that it's quite clear in that verse.
Loving one another is the mark of a Christian. If you read in I John 3:14, you'll see clearly that it love is the definitive mark of a Christian. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Now that's simple and plain, isn't it? It's a mark of a Christian --- Love, true love. Not just this silly, surface attraction that so many people try to call love today, which so often is just lust instead of love. And sometimes even these platonic friendships and platonic loves that we speak of today are really not that at all, are they? They're really based on a desire to get something from that other person. And that's not really true love, is it? Love is unselfish. But as we just read to you from 3:14 here in I John, loving one another is the mark of a Christian.
Love is part of receiving a new nature and a new life at salvation. There's no way that we can receive this new life and new nature at salvation without partaking of this love of God, is there? It just can't be done!
If we read Romans 5:5, we find these words: "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love," notice that word, "because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." So when we have the Holy Spirit in our heart, which comes at salvation, then we must of necessity also have this love of God shed abroad in our heart, mustn't we? This is the clear mark of a true Christian.
Showing this love is a matter of making up your mind to allow God's love to reach others through you and then acting in loving ways toward others. That's the way to show this love. Just determine in your heart that you're going to allow God's love to reach others through you. And there's nothing that touches the old, hard sinner, the skeptic, the wicked person, the Christ rejecter, like seeing the love of God in you, the Christian. There is nothing that touches him like that.
The Christian life, so-called, without love is absolutely nothing. The so-called Christian life without love is nothing.
The command to love one another is not only new in emphasis as we've been showing you from Scripture, but it's also new in another way. It's new in example. If we look at 2:8 we read: "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth."
Now what's the example we're talking about? Christ, isn't it? Christ is our example. So love is new in example. This commandment to love is new in example because before Christ came they'd never had a real honest-to-goodness perfect example to follow of this love that it's talking about, had they? Until Christ came, there had never really been this true, complete and perfect example of love. But now since Christ came there is this perfect example of love. Love one another, in other words, was first perfectly true in Christ! As He said in verse 8, "And the true light now shineth." That is, Jesus!
It is true in the lives of those trusting in Christ as well. This true light of Jesus should shine through us to others! And if we really have it in us, it will. It will shine through us to others. We won't worry about whether they sneer at us or not when we're gone. We won't worry about whether they laugh at us behind our back because we're always witnessing about the Lord. But if we really have this love of Jesus inside, this light that comes from the love of Jesus, it's going to shine out to others, isn't it? It is going to shine to others!
Jesus, we notice all the way through His life here on earth --- and this is a problem for us --- I know it is for me and I'm sure it is for you as well --- Jesus always hated sin. Now that part's not so hard to do, to hate sin. But He never hated the sinner. And that's pretty hard not to do sometimes, isn't it? That part is pretty hard! He never hated the sinner but He always hated sin. And that's the way we need to be.
The examples of Jesus' love for the disciples are, of course, almost endless. A few of them that we might think about just briefly and list for you are how He was so patient with Peter's impulsiveness. Peter said, (Jim Dearmore paraphrase) "No, Lord, I'll never betray You. No matter if they butcher me right here, chop me in little pieces and throw me to the hogs." You can't think of anything more horrible than that for a Jew to say, can you? "Chop me up and feed me to the hogs." "No," he says, "Lord, I'll never betray You." But he was talking, as we say, "through his hat," wasn't he? And yet, Jesus loved him in spite of all his impulsiveness. When old Peter jerked out his sword and chopped off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus said, "Peter, put up your sword. This is what I came here for, to be crucified. I came here to be crucified. I came here to die. Put up your sword."
Now it is not teaching pacifism here because in another place where He speaks to them, He says, "If you don't have a sword, go sell what you've got and go buy one." So it's definitely not teaching pacifism. But it is teaching that this was a time that had been set for Jesus to be arrested and crucified. And therefore He says, "Peter, put up your sword." And He heals the ear for the servant of the high priest. But He was patient with Peter's impulsiveness. And this, of course, would be an outstanding visible example of Jesus' love for the disciples.
Another thing that we might show as an example of His love for the disciples, He was patient with Thomas' unbelief. Aren't you glad He was patient with our unbelief? And that He still is patient with our unbelief? But think with me for a minute. All the others were there when Jesus came back after the resurrection except Thomas. And when Thomas came back, he'd been off somewhere, he came back and they started rejoicing and telling him about the Lord being there and that they'd seen Him. That He was really alive again. And Thomas said, "No," he says, "you're just a bunch of nuts," in so many words, didn't he? "Don't believe a word of it," he says, "unless I see Him with my own eyes and put my hand into the spear thrust in His side and my finger into the marks in His hands, I won't believe any foolishness like that." But did Jesus condemn him for that or did Jesus become angry at him about that? No, He did not! And Thomas didn't have to put his finger in the marks in the hand either, did he? Or the spear cut in the side? As soon as Jesus spoke to him, what did he say? He said, "My Lord and my God."
Jesus wasn't impatient with him. He was kind and loving to him. He didn't even speak harshly of Judas and his treachery. He didn't go into a rage and say bad things about Judas. He could have just struck Judas dead for his treachery, couldn't He? But He didn't do any of these things.
Consider Jesus' love for all kinds of people. There are many examples of it in the New Testament. Publicans and sinners were attracted by His love. If you look in Luke 15:1-2, you see: "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."
All of these other so-called religious people of the day, the religious leaders of the day, wouldn't even go to sit down at a table to eat with publicans and sinners. They wouldn't even if they could help it, go into the same room with publicans and sinners. They would not have any kind of fellowship or contact with publicans and sinners --- They wouldn't think of eating a meal with them. And here Jesus did receive sinners and eat with them. And they condemned Him for it, these so-called religious leaders of the day.
Even harlots were converted and bathed His feet with their tears. If you look at Luke 7:36, you'll see quite a long passage there beginning with verse 36 which tells the story of one of these wicked women who was saved and came and bathed the feet of Jesus with tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus gave a little parable there explaining this further down in the passage when the Pharisees started condemning Him for it. They thought, "Oh, my. This is terrible. Here's this man, supposedly the Son of God, and He is allowing this evil woman to touch His feet and He's not feeling defiled by it," as they would have. They would have thought that was a terrible defilement had this harlot been touching their feet.
Going on a little further thinking about some other examples of Jesus' love for all sorts of people, remember the high class religious leader, Nicodemus. He could meet with the Lord by night to satisfy his spiritual hunger. That's recorded in John 3:1-21. And remember the wonderful words of Jesus when He taught him and said, "Ye must be born again," and how He said to him in the midst of that discourse these wonderful words:
John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
It makes no difference what language you say it in, does it? In the Kiyaka Tribal language it goes: Yoane 3:16 -- Wadi Nzambi lutidi kuzola bantu bansi, nde wahana Mwanandi Mosi Kaka, nde konsonani kamkwikila sakafwako, kansi kena ye moyo mvu ya mvu."
It is still that wonderful verse, John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here's the old Jewish leader, the big-shot of the Jews coming secretly to Jesus and learning the truth. And he really believed. We know he did because he was also one of the ones who came to beg the body of Jesus, wasn't he? And he buried the body of the Lord in the garden tomb.
Thinking further now about these all sorts of people to whom Jesus showed His love. Think about the 4000 men, not counting the women and children. Just ordinary, low class people, a multitude. Not high class people at all. We just spoke of this very high class man, Nicodemus. He was of the highest class there was among Jews at that time. But then a multitude of common people, just people probably without any work or anything, followed the Lord and listened to His teachings for three days. And then were fed by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. You find that recorded in Matthew 15:32.
He held babies in His arms, just little babies and spoke about children at play. He picked them up in His arms of love. The Creator of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Savior and coming King of the earth, loved the little children.
He even comforted the women, as I've mentioned to you before in other sermons, who wept as the soldiers led Him out to Calvary. He comforted them, didn't He?
Jesus' love is shown also at the crucifixion as the song says that I so often paraphrase for you, "He could have called ten thousand angels, To destroy the world and set Him free. But He died alone for you and me." He showed His love in so many ways.
We might say by way of illustration of the thought here that in Christ we have a new picture of the old truth that God is love and that the life of love is the life of joy and victory. When we go around hating other people, you know the one it hurts the worst? The one it hurts the worst is us, isn't it? It hurts us the worst. Much worse! Most of them don't even know we're hating them. But when we go around hating other people, it hurts us.
Those who walk in the light, as we've already said and as John has shown to us repeatedly in this book, those who walk in the light practice love because that is part of walking in the light --- practicing love. Those who walk in darkness practice hatred, the opposite of love, don't they? You say, "Oh, but he's a nice fellow. He doesn't hate anybody." Well, if he's not saved, he's walking in darkness and he's walking in hatred. Though he may not show it to you, he doesn't have this love of God, which is the root of real love, down in his heart!
Conflict in the world is always between the light of life and love and the darkness of sin and hatred. That's where all conflict in the world comes from. You just think about it a minute and you'll see that's true. Christ said over in the Gospel of John 15:12, (remember this was recorded by the same man who wrote our text for today), Jesus there in John 15:12 said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
The command to love one another is not only new in emphasis as we've already mentioned, and new in example, but it's also new in a third way. And that is, it's new in experience --- new in experience.
In chapter 2 of I John 9 through 11, our text passage, let's read that again: "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
So, this we said the commandment to love is new in experience and John here as you can see is continuing his illustration of light and darkness. And this whole passage, in fact, in a large portion of this whole book he's continuing his illustration of light and darkness.
Several things that he brings out that are very clear are first, if we're in fellowship with God, we will be in fellowship with others in God's family. How could we if we're really in fellowship with God and God dwells in us, His Spirit is in us and we're in proper fellowship with Him and this other fellow over here is in fellowship with God and God's Spirit dwells in him, how could we hate each other? It just doesn't make any sense, does it? So if we're in fellowship with God, we will be in fellowship with others in God's family who are in proper fellowship with Him. Love and light, in other words, go together. Hatred and darkness go together and there's just no separating those two ideas.
Christian life has two different relationships that need to be always remembered.
First, the vertical relationship that is the relationship to God, or vertical Godward, if you want to make it short.
And then the other relationship is horizontal or manward. So the Christian life has the two relationships: vertical, the relationship toward God; horizontal, the relationship toward other men. And each of these two relationships if we're really saved and really right with God, must be one of love, mustn't it?
If we read in Matthew 5:23-24, we find these words: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." You know, that would really put the bee on us, wouldn't it? as the saying goes. If we follow that very carefully, it would keep us right with the Lord, wouldn't it? "You can't even make a proper offering to the Lord," it says, "if your brother has ought against you."
Continuing a little further with this idea of the commandment to love one another being new in experience, we find another problem. And that is this, this business of saying and doing. Yes, saying and doing! You know, there's always a problem with that, isn't there? Hypocrisy! What we say and what we do is not always the same, is it? But this saying and doing, if we say that we are in the light, if we truly are in the light, then we'll prove it by loving others. As it teaches us in verses 9 and 10 of chapter 2, First John. When we practice true Christian love, our light gets brighter and brighter. But did you ever see someone who was just consumed by hatred? They're always miserable. People who don't have this love in their heart and life, they're always miserable.
Love is a very practical thing. It's not just some airy-fairy, pie-in-the-sky type thing. It's practical. It will make you happy here on earth. It will make you more successful here on earth in the true meaning of the word successful. But love is a practical thing; it applies in the everyday affairs of life, as is shown by many statements in the New Testament. There are so many places in the New Testament, I've listed a few here, where He speaks of these "one another" statements, as we call them. These statements where it has the expression, "one another" in it. And there are twenty-some odd of these in the New Testament and I've listed about eight or ten of them here to give you quickly.
We said it's a practical thing even in the everyday affairs of life, that is love. There's a reference in John 13:14 which speaks of washing one another's feet. Now you say, "That's not too practical." Well, nowadays it's not really all that practical because now we all wear shoes. But in those days they walked almost everywhere they went. They generally either wore no shoes or wore open sandals, so that a mark of love and respect and hospitality to your visitor when he first arrived was to wash his feet. A very practical thing.
Another reference, Romans 12:10 speaks of preferring one another. It commands us to prefer one another. That is, show love, show preference to your brother. Again in Romans 12:16, he has another one of these similar statements when he says, "Be of the same mind, one to another." That is, love each other.
Again in Romans 14:13, He says, "Do not judge one another," in the sense of nit-picking condemnation of your brother. Then in Romans 15:7, He says, "Receive one another." All these things are very practical and they're all closely tied to this idea of love. Read Romans 15:14, and you say, "Well, how could this one be tied to the idea of love?" There it speaks of the fact that we should admonish one another. Well, that is the highest form of love --- to speak in a kind but rebuking way when it's necessary. Admonish someone who's getting out of line with the Lord. Of course, you want to be sure first that you've got that big beam out of your own eye before you start trying to pick that little mote out of your brother's eye. You have to be careful about that; all of us do! But admonish one another. That is, encourage and teach each other about the things of God and of love.
"Edify or build up one another," He speaks about this in I Thessalonians 5:11. He speaks of bearing one another's burdens in Galatians 6:2. And then old James, he really gets down to where it is when he speaks in 5:16 of confessing our faults one to another. That is real love, isn't it? Confessing our thoughts one to another. And then, First Peter 4:9, there's another good one about these --- another statement, where it teaches that we should show hospitality one to another.
There is a question that comes to mind immediately at this point, and that is this: "What happens to a believer who does not love the brethren?" What happens to a believer like that? Well, we might say that this is a description of what happens to him. He lives in darkness. He thinks he's a spiritual giant but he is really a baby without spiritual perception! He thinks he sees, as it tells us in I John 2:9, but he is actually blinded by the darkness of hatred. He may even read the Bible and pray fervently. But if he has hatred in his heart, then he's living a lie! Because if he's truly living, if he's truly got what he's trying to put on show that he's living, then he'd have the love of God in his heart, wouldn't he? And this love of God will come out and shine on other people. It won't be darkness.
Such a believer becomes a cause of stumbling to others, or such a pretended believer perhaps would be a better way to say it, as it tells us in verse 10; he becomes a stumbling block to others. The unloving brother stumbles himself, and he also causes others to stumble because of his lack of love.
Love makes us stepping stones to help other believers, other true believers. Hatred, or we might translate that envy and malice, makes us a stumbling block to others, both saved and unsaved.
The third result of hatred is that it retards a believer's spiritual progress. It tells us that in verse 11. "He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." Well, how would you like that? Have you ever been in a really dark place? Most of us seldom ever really see a really dark place without any light. But if you want to see what he's talking about here, when you get home go into your closet, put a big heavy cloth over your head and close the door of your closet with no light on inside and then open your eyes. You'll see what he's talking about. How would you like to walk in that kind of darkness --- just walk through the world like that? You'd be stumbling all the time, wouldn't you? You'd be running into fences and houses and posts and tripping and falling, skin your nose and everything else before it was over with, wouldn't you? That's what he's talking about here. It retards a believer's spiritual progress.
The person that's walking in darkness and blindness can never find his way. They just can't. They're blinded by Satan. "Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine in," as the Scripture says, "and bring them to Christ."
The only atmosphere which makes spiritual growth possible is that of spiritual light. And spiritual light means love, doesn't it? Without love we don't have spiritual life. If we have spiritual life, then we have love.
One could use as an example here of this idea our plants. Most of our green plants, as you know from your studies in school, require photosynthesis to live and to grow, don't they? That means that they've got to have light. Because photosynthesis only takes place in the presence of light! And without this light then no growth takes place. And without this light, even a plant that previously was alive and is cut off from light for a long period of time will eventually die, won't it? This photosynthesis is like this spiritual light that we're talking about. A Christian just can't grow without love, without this spiritual light.
So now in conclusion, and I'm not like this fellow that I saw the joke about the other day, you may have seen it --- A little cartoon --- It showed a big congregation in the auditorium of the church. And there was a fellow there in the congregation listening to some long-winded preacher apparently. They were sitting on pews, very nice pews. And it showed the fellow that had already made about sixteen marks, little notches on the pew in front of him with his knife. And his buddy next to him says, "Aw, stop that," just because the speaker said in conclusion another time. He'd already said it sixteen times and the guy was making a notch on the pew every time he said, "in conclusion."
So, in conclusion --- the second time --- Thus far we've looked mostly at the negative side of verses 9 to 11 in I John 2. Now let's look quickly at the positive side. What will the results be if we practice Christian love? What's going to be the result if we truly and properly practice Christian love?
First, we'll live in light, in fellowship with God and with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Second, we won't stumble or become stumbling blocks to others. If we truly walk in the light, then we won't stumble ourselves and we won't cause others to stumble.
And third, we will grow spiritually and become more Christlike. These green plants when they're out in the bright sunlight they grow. Because of this process of photosynthesis, which takes the minerals, the plant foods of various kinds from the soil and the water, the moisture, and this photosynthesis process converts it into building blocks, we might say, for the plant! And the plant grows. And we'll be that way. We'll be growing spiritually and becoming more Christlike if we truly practice Christian love.
And fourthly, when we walk in the light the Spirit produces love. And love always brings something else that everybody wants; it brings joy. Yes, love brings joy!
You know, some people seem to think you can have joy going around hating everybody. But that's impossible. You know, it's like the little, silly thing we used to say when I was a child, "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, going around the garden eating worms!" And that's about the way some of these people are, isn't it? In their everyday life they're just like that little silly ditty that we used to sing.
Love never keeps records of things that others do to hurt us. Now this is a hard lesson to learn but we need to all learn it. We have a list here. "Well, that rascal, he did so and so to me. He did so and so to me." Before you get through you've got twenty-nine reasons why you hate that guy. And maybe everyone of them is true. But that's not love, is it? Maybe he really did do all twenty-nine of those things to you that he shouldn't have done. But love never keeps records of things that others do that hurt us.
When we truly love someone, our love covers and heals the wounds they cause us. You know, that's where a lot of trouble in marriages comes from. You know, your wife squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle instead of on the bottom. Ahh, I see Tom poking Ann over there now. And so, then you make a list of that. You know, it's at the top of his list there. Things I'm aggravated with Ann about. And then when he gets through, he's got thirty-nine things on the list. And probably she's got 150 about him, you see. And, of course, this just isn't love, is it? That is not love, is it? Of course, he knows I was teasing and she does, too.
If we walk in the light God's Spirit produces true Christian love in our hearts, as we've already showed you from Romans 5:5. Let us, each one of us today, resolve to search our hearts and if our brother has anything against us or if we have anything against him, then let's get rid of it. Let us throw it out. Let us straighten it up. Let us solve the problem.
The Life That Is Real, that same life that we preached to you about last Sunday night, is one of active love in Christ. This means forgiveness, kindness, longsuffering. But it also means joy and peace and victory. And there's no other way to have joy and peace and victory, except by this real life, which is a life of love. In other words, the love life is the only worthwhile life. Because it's the only life that's real, isn't it?
That life, that eternal life, that joyful, that peaceful, that victorious life, that we have in Christ. That's the love life. That's the only real life.