Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3:18
By a radical move, your life was saved. You are to live by the same radical move.
The radical move? Open heart.
In our day it is a somewhat common phrase: a procedure that can save one’s physical life, otherwise in jeopardy. Yet for the follower of Christ, our “open heart” is an ongoing evidence that Christ the Master Surgeon has done the miraculous within us.
John illustrates a teaching of Jesus in this section of his letter that breathes practical living. The heart-sick world is full of envy and murder. While not all commit the act, the thoughts get the deed done nicely, just short of “knocking off” our envied opponent (1 Jn. 3:11-15). This murder-by-heart attitude is warned against in our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:21-24. You can keep the letter of the law—“I never killed anyone”—and still be guilty of murder by harboring evil and speaking vileness. There’s no righteousness in legalism, nor any heart-evidence of salvation in hatred.
The Lord Jesus Himself exemplifies for us the right way. He taught with words (Lk. 5:31-32; Jn. 15:12-14) and then practically modelled what He taught (1 Jn. 3:16). The resultant attitude (in us) has to go beyond, “Nice job, Jesus! Thanks for dying for me, so I can live out my life without getting too involved with others!” John gives us the challenge pointedly in verse seventeen: If you’re a child of God, evidence one is your new heart being open to others’ lives. Your focus will be on practical ministering, and not on just preserving your own life.
The evidence of Christ in us: to the heart of our neighbor’s plight, through our open heart.