In my quiet time this morning I was writing and noticed the Scripture verse on the cover of my journal, “We love because He first loved us.” 1st John 4:19. I was prompted to begin reading in chapter one in my Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).
Like most of us, we’ve probably read through the Scriptures multiple times. I have been spending more time in the “New Testament” (Brit HaDashah) lately asking Abba to show me through “Torah” eyes where I might have applied a doctrine or principle to His Word that really doesn’t apply. A phrase jumped out at me in 1st John, “Here is how”.
When I first read this I immediately thought of the recent crochet tutorial video I had watched. “Here is how you make a bubble stitch”. In the video the instructor showed step by step how to create a raised pattern stitch.
Here is how, a term we use to teach us how to do something step by step, or so I thought.
As I read through 1st John I began to see this phrase, “Here is how” multiple times. The writer is not identified (it’s assumed it is John/Yochanan) nor the people he is writing to, yet there is something comforting in what is written that I can apply to my life. Here is how…
1 John 3:10 CJB “Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God. Likewise, anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God.” (emphasis mine)
Comment: “Anyone who fails to keep loving his brother is not from God”. Ouch…Abba show me where I have not loved my brother/sister through my words or deeds.
1 John 3:19-22 CJB “Here is how we will know that we are from the truth and will set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our hearts know something against us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God; then whatever we ask for, we receive from him; because we are obeying his commands and doing the things that please him.” (emphasis mine)
Comment: “if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God; then whatever we ask for, we receive from him“. What does it mean, “if our hearts know nothing against us”?
Psalms 26:2 CJB “Examine me, YHVH, test me, search my mind and heart.”
Psalm 139:23-24 CJB “Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is in me any hurtful way, and lead me along the eternal way.”
I looked at this in the context of prayer. If I’ve examined my heart and have confidence in approaching God, THEN whatever I ask for, I will receive from Him. NOT just by obeying his commands and doing the things that please him.
1 John 3:24b CJB “Here is how we know that he remains united with us: by the Spirit who he gave us.” (emphasis mine)
1 John 4:2-3a CJB “Here is how you recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges that Yeshua the Messiah came as a human being is from God, and every spirit which does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God – in fact, this is the spirit of Anti-Messiah.” (emphasis mine)
Comment: What is the context of knowing he remains with us? By the Spirit. What is the context of recognizing the Spirit of God? Every spirit which acknowledges that Yeshua the Messiah came as a human being is from God. Seems like a simple test…
1 John 4:4-6 CJB “You, children, are from God and have overcome the false prophets, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world: therefore they speak from the world’s viewpoint; and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we distinguish the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error.” (emphasis mine)
1 John 4:9 CJB “Here is how God showed his love among us: God sent his only Son into the world, so that through him we might have life. (emphasis mine)
1 John 4:10 CJB “Here is what love is: not that we we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the kapparah (atonement) for our sins. (emphasis mine)
Comment: I can’t wrap my brain around this one. He loved me (us) so much that He was willing to send His only son to be the atonement for my (our) sin.
1 John 4:11-12 CJB “Beloved friends, if this is how God loved us, we likewise ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us.”
I know in my heart, that I don’t always love my brother/sister (those who we have identified as having His Spirit) the way I should. I am so quick to find fault when someone does not see things the way I do. I use my tongue to speak negative about a brother or sister when I can clearly see they are wrong, but don’t realize speaking negative about them is wrong. Father, please forgive me and help me to change my ways.
Matthew 7:1-5 CJB “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged – the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. Whey do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!
1 John 4:13 CJB “Here is how we know that we remain united with him and he with us: he has given to us from his own Spirit. (emphasis mine)
1 John 4:16 CJB “Also we have come to know and trust the love that God has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them.
Comment: Abba, help me to really know this love you have for me (us), so I can remain in this love, united with You AND display it to the world!
1 John 4:17 CJB “Here is how love has been brought to maturity with us: as the Messiah is, so are we in the world. This gives us confidence for the Day of Judgment. (emphasis mine)
Comment: As the Messiah is, so are we in the world…
1 John 4:18 CJB “There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love. (emphasis mine)
Kinda stings when I read that a person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love. I admit I do not understand this kind of love, yet. Abba, teach me how to love…You…and others.
1 John 4:19-21 CJB “We ourselves love now because he loved us first. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too.”
I don’t hate, but I know I have hurt people with my words. Abba, teach me how to love…You…and others.
1 John 5:2-4 CJB “Here is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God, we also do what he commands. For loving God means obeying his commands. Moreover, his commands are not burdensome, because everything which has God as it’s Father overcomes the world. And this is what victoriously overcomes the world: our trust.”
Comment: I’ve been on this Torah journey for over 20 years now. The verse quoted above states that when we love God, we obey His commands. For a long time obeying His commands has been the center of discussion in this Torah walk. We tend to judge people, without love, when we see them doing things contrary to what we understand obedience to be. We malign and spew hatred on the internet and in person when someone disagrees with our perception of the truth. We break fellowship with our brothers & sisters because we disagree. We equate loving God with keeping His commands and neglect the weightier matters. We can quote the Shema & V’ahavta, Deuteronomy 6:4-8, in Hebrew, yet neglect to really hear and do what it says!
Matthew 22:36-40 CJB “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love YHVH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (commandment). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot (commandments). (emphasis mine)
Keeping/obeying the Torah without love reminds me of a saying, “Rules, without relationship, equals rebellion”. The world is not going to want what we have if we continue to be unloving toward our brother (those identified above as having the same Spirit). They (those in the world) are watching us. May we be found worthy of showing them Your love when we love one another.
teach me how to love the way You do
teach me how accept those who are seeking you, right where they are at
teach me how to forgive when I have been wronged
teach me how to be humble when I have wronged someone