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Confident that We Belong to God

1 John 3:19-20
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (NIVUK)

John had just set the test of true discipleship as loving our believing brothers and sisters in a practical and sacrificial way. But it is a test with two edges. The first is the confidence which flows from knowing that we are unsatisfied until the believers around us have what they need. That tells us that the family of God matters to us as much as our own family. It reassures us that that we belong to Christ who is the Truth.

The second edge is that we know that we do not love constantly as we should. We know our own weaknesses, and our feebleness in loving disturbs our hearts. We long to love more, but we feel torn because we know that we love less than we could or should. What peace is there for us then? Instead of our consciences assuring us that all is well between us and God, we feel condemned.

But that very sense that we have failed our Lord, and the concern it brings to us, should also reassure us that our hearts long to love as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it (Ephesians 5:25). The false teacher and the apostate are not troubled by sin; but the sincere believer is. The Lord certainly knows our sinfulness, and that it reaches deeper than we would ever admit, but He has provided a total remedy for that sin in His own sacrificial love. We know that He has put a genuine love into our hearts for other believers; and despite our failings, we cannot erase it.

So we can and should be confident that we belong to the Lord as we love His children, rely on His loving mercy and learn to start loving again. All this is possible because God is love and He has put His love into our hearts. When we love as He loves, then He is glorified; when we admit our failure and appeal to His mercy, He is also glorified. So we should learn to be open to receive His love and forgiveness. Then our hearts will be able to rest in His presence, now and when we see Him one day.

Gracious Lord. Thank You for putting Your love into my heart, giving me the desire to love others. Thank You for providing a remedy for my lovelessness in the sacrifice of Jesus. Forgive me for my failure to love as I should and help me to receive Your love more and more so that I may love others – starting with those with whom I worship You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams