READ : 1 John 4:7-21
Paul closes his letter with a glorious blessing. He has been setting forth the heart and core of the gospel. He has defended it with numerous arguments and illustrations. He has at times been stern and unbending. But now he offers a calm, positive prayer in which he asks God to bless his readers. He ends with quite a different spirit than he had shown throughout his letter. I am reminded of his words to the Corinthian church: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).
Even in something as crucial as defending the gospel we must be gracious. Without love and grace we become narrow and suspicious. If we stand firm without love we become fanatics, ugly in temperament and intolerant toward broken people out of relationship with God. Without love to balance our zeal for the gospel we become critical and harsh. If we are strong yet without love we lack the tenderness that causes others to be attracted to our strength.
As important as the defense of the gospel is, we must be sensitive to the need to display love. Church splits are so common. Let love hold us together that we might not add to the brokenness of our world.
Lord Jesus, help me to reflect your love in every circumstance in my life. Amen.