1 John 4:7-21 is the Epistle reading for this coming week. It begins “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God, everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This is pretty straight forward talk from John. And I think that John is wearing boots rather than sandals, for this should hurt a little on our toes when he steps on them. To act in love towards another is to do so because God has given us the gift of love. If we have received that gift of love, then we know God. If we do not love others, then it is true that we do not know God, and we have no part of God. So ask yourself, as I have done, “do I really know God” when I have not loved another this week.
Paul also has something to say about love and being of God when in speaks about the fruits of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-26 Paul writes: “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.” Paul is here very clear. If you have the Spirit, which is a gift of God, you are full of these things: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The converse is also true, you are not of the Spirit if you do not have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Paul has some pretty heavy boots too. Listen to what Paul means when he starts these words off with “by contrast”: “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I have high lighted several items on Paul’s list. I do not think too many of us have problems with the “fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery….drunkenness, carousing.” However, there some of us who have a boat load of “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy” in our lives today. And Paul does not mince any words: if these things are in your life you “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I do not know about you, but I am grateful for a God who loves us, who says to us “turn away from these chains in your lives, and turn to me, where I will embrace you, for this reason I died on the cross for you, and for a new life in me I was raised.”