6. I can know that I have been born again if I love my “brother”
I John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
The specific context in this and the following verses seems to be referring to showing love to our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. However, the same concept would apply to showing love to those in our family as well. The book of I John compares the relationship of Christians with each other to family relationships. Our attitude and relationships with the Christian brethren should be the same as it would be for those of our family.
In a family, people do wrong and need to be forgiven. They love and care for one another. They fellowship and find out each other’s needs. When a family member has a need, the other members pitch in to see how they can help. We ought to do the same with our Christian brothers and sisters as well. We are all part of God’s family.
Verses fifteen through eighteen explain more about how to love the brethren. Verse fifteen says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” This does not mean that, if you have feelings of dislike or waves of disgust come over you, that your are unsaved. We all have emotions, including dislike and disgust. However, as Christians, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to control those emotions.
Here is a test. If you feel hate or dislike or disgust for a person, give those emotions to God. Tell Him all about it, and allow the Holy Spirit to take control. If, after spending time alone with God and pouring out your heart to Him, you still cannot have victory over hating that person and cannot feel any good will toward him or her, then you must examine your life. You cannot love a person in your own strength. But, if you cannot allow the Holy Spirit to control your emotions and allow the Lord to love that person through you, you may not be saved. A person cannot harbor continual hatred in his or her heart and be a Christian. If your heart is filled with hate that cannot be overcome through God’s strength, you have not been born again.
Verse sixteen tells how deep our love should be for our brother or sister. It says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Many of us do not have this kind of deep love. It is not a natural human love. Romans 5:7 says, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”
How hard it is for one human being to be willing to give up his or her life for another! Yet, Jesus left us an example to follow. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” True love does not think of self. True love is willing to sacrifice self for the good of others. What kind of love do you have? Would you be willing to give up your life for a brother or sister in Christ? What if that brother or sister had hurt or offended you; would you still be willing to lay down your life for him or her?
Most of us do not have this kind of love, but we ought to have an open heart to allow God to develop this kind of love in us. Are you willing to allow God to plant and cultivate this kind of love in your heart? Could you ask Him to make you willing?
When we first give ourselves to someone, we are then willing to give what we have to help them. Here is a test from God to help you know if true love abides in you. I John 5:17 says, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
You can know that you have been born again if you love the brethren. You can know that you love the brethren if you are willing to help them when they have a need. If a brother or sister is lacking something and has a true need, and you have what they need, are you willing to give it to them? If they need some help and you are able or know how to help them, are you willing to do so?
We do not always follow through on good intentions of helping others. But we can ask God to help us be more faithful in this area. However, if we really do not care about the needs of others, we must examine our hearts to see if we have truly been born again. I John 5:18 sums it all up, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”