Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:7–14)
In the previous passage, the Apostle John demonstrated that our attitude to sin reveals what is actually in our heart. You might claim that you know God, but does your life live up to that claim? To be sure we all sin, but is that something we lament or simply excuse?
In this passage John expands the thought.
On the one hand, he writes, none of this should come a surprise to his readers as it is they heard it all when the gospel was first preached to them.
On the other hand we should realise that this command to “love one another” is in fact something new, since it came from the lips of Jesus himself. After all, did he not say: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)?
In the end our attitude to other people is a means of taking our spiritual temperature. Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? If so, this is a sign that we are living in the light. If, however, we acknowledge that we hate some of our brothers and sisters in Christ we need to see this is a warning. And a prompt to prayer.
In the end, our actions speak louder than our words.