Abiding in God
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And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:23-24 ESV)
Do you ever wonder about God’s plan for your life? I know I do. Especially as I went through high school and college, I became more and more fixated on figuring out what God’s plan was for my life. What would I major in? What career should I pursue? What was God specifically calling me to do with my life?
One day in college, I was reading 1 John and eventually came to chapter 3. As I read through this passage, I reached the verses above and had one of those “Aha!” moments. I realized I had been so focused on figuring out all of the minute details of what God wanted me to do with my life and career that I had lost sight of the main thing he had always been calling me to the whole time. Simply put, God’s command is to love Him and love people. I had overcomplicated things! Once I was reminded of this, I realized my daily life should always be oriented in a way that maximizes the love I show to God and those around me. I should be less concerned about discerning all of the specifics and more focused on the opportunities God lays in front of me to love Him and love people. And if we are obedient to Jesus’ commands to love both God and people well, He will direct my and your steps now and in the future.
So what does loving God look like? What does loving people look like? Well 1 John 3:18 states, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” So we can see that this is a practical thing requiring action. And in the verse prior, John advises, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). If we know a fellow believer who is in physical need, our loving response should be to tangibly help provide for them. When we also look at how Jesus conducted His ministry, He often saw a physical need, met that need, and then would share the good news about Himself. That is a great model for our personal ministry as well!
This love for God and people is evidence of our relationship with Jesus and shows that we abide in God and He abides in us (1 John 3:24). This is further confirmed by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Abide is not a passive term in these verses; rather it requires intentional action and effort to dwell with Jesus. So be encouraged and challenged to spend time with God, investing in your relationship with Him, so that your heart will continually be renewed in order to love Him and the people around you well. This is all so that God may be glorified and made known, from your neighbors to the nations!
Have you been focused on intricate details of God’s plans for your life? What steps will you take to prioritize the two most important commandments—to love the Lord God and others (Matthew 22:37-39)?
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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