The Distinguishing Mark

Jerry Sittser

READ : 1 John 3:11-17

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. (v. 14)

It even has a color associated with it. We say a person is green with envy. One of the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is characterized by a hatred of the good we see in others. Greed is the desire to have things we don’t; envy is the jealousy we feel toward the people who do have those things. It is deadly because it despises the success of others and strives to undermine that success. It resents coming in second. Such was Cain’s sin. Cain hated Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God. His hatred led to murder.

The opposite of envy is love. Envy hates the wealthy, powerful, and successful; love lifts up the lowly and destitute. Envy tears down, love builds up. Envy leads to death, love to life. “Whoever does not love abides in death,” John writes. But those who love pass from death to life. They have received the sacrificial love offered through Jesus Christ, and they are willing and eager to share that same love with others, especially “the least of these,” as Jesus called them.

Love is the distinguishing mark of all true Christians.


God, help us to love others as we have been loved by your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name we pray, Amen.