"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God." (1 John 3:1)
Children of God! Isn't it great that we can be His children!
God wants us to be His children. The same John who also wrote the Gospel of John, told us in John 3, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God wanted us to be His children so much that He gave up His one and only Son to die in our place for our sins, so that we don't have to die for our sins. By simply accepting His death on the cross for us personally we can be born again or born spiritually. That spiritual birth is a gift. "what love the Father has given to us."
Have you been born again? There is a song we used to sing in Sunday School for a child on their birthday, to the tune of "Happy Birthday." It went like this: "Happy birthday to you...but one will not do. Take Christ as your Saviour, and then you'll have two." You can tell me your birth date. Can you tell me your spiritual birth date? (If not the exact day, can you at least tell me the circumstances of that day?)
God wants us to be innocent like a child. 1 John 3:2-3 says, "Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."
Verses 7-8 say "Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil."
God can make us innocent, "just as He is pure." We can be completely saved from our sins. Remember, John was writing this letter to the Christians who were being influenced by wrong teaching. Some were teaching that Jesus was not a man. Others were saying he was a man but not God. Still others were teaching that we can be saved from our sins and still commit sin. John reminds his readers that he was an eye-witness of Jesus. Jesus IS God the Son, come in the flesh. Those who are His have the Holy Spirit - they know the truth and they do not continue in lives of sin.
Adam Clarke said this about the words in verse 3 ("as He is pure"):"Till he is a completely saved from his sins as Christ was free from sin. Many tell us that 'this never can be done, for no man can be saved from sin in this life.' Will these persons permit us to ask, How much sin may we be saved from in this life? Something must be ascertained on this subject:
Jesus came that we might be forgiven. He can forgive, cleanse and turn our lives around. We can have the innocence of a little child in our souls. Praise God! That is the Gospel! That is the Good News!
God wants us to live like a child (not "childish" but "child-like").
How does a young, innocent child live? Jesus said, in Mark 10:15, "He who does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Was Jesus saying that only children can be born again? No! In fact, when He said these words, He was speaking to adults. When he said that we must be "born again," He was speaking to a grown man named Nicodemus. It was not the age of the listener that was the point, but the child-like attitude of acceptance.
Jesus was saying that we must be like children in our approach to God. What are the characteristics of a young, innocent child that show us how we should respond to God?
TRUST A young child trusts his parents for food, warmth, love, protection. As he begins to talk, he may say "Help me, Daddy."
COMFORT "Hold me, Daddy."
TEACHING "Show me, Daddy."
PROVIDING "Please, Daddy." or "May I have this, please, Daddy?"
ENCOURAGEMENT "Watch me, Daddy."
Even though children don't ask for DISCIPLINE, later on in life a child will be grateful for a parent who lovingly does discipline his child. That discipline needs to be for willful disobedience, not for being a child.
(If a child in his carelessness, knocks over a glass of milk, that is not a point for discipline. But, if he knocks it over in defiance or to keep from having to drink it, etc. that is a different matter.) God also disciplines His children for willful disobedience. (The proper definition of sin is "to willfully disobey a known law of God.")
Also, a child is EASILY PLEASED. It doesn't take much to make a little child happy. Nor should it take much to make a child of God happy.
SIMPLE FAITH is characteristic of a child. Little children can be taught about God easily and will be open about their faith. So should a child of God.
SIMPLE UNDERSTANDING Children take things at face value. They accept your word simply. So should we accept God's Word simply as He says it.
Have you ever watched a little child meeting another child for the first time? They don't usually take long to make friends. It doesn't matter the colour of hair or eyes or skin, or what kind of house they live in, or endless details that adults are often concerned about. They simply love others. We, as a child of God need to be like that.
FORGIVES QUICKLY Little children can forgive and forget so quickly. We must be like that.
COMPASSION Ever watch a little child find a hurt animal or insect? Or, if they see someone hurt, they have hearts full of compassion. That is a good way for us to be, too.
SEEKS TO PLEASE Even if their performance is not all that great, a little child seeks to help and do kind things for others. Do we serve others that readily?
OPEN AND HONEST Kids come right out and say what they think. (One of my dad's favourite stories he told was about the little boy who grew up with his parents spelling out words they didn't want little ears to understand in the conversation. This little boy was learning to spell, so it wasn't always easy for his parents to spell things out anymore. One day they had a visiting preacher come to their house for dinner. During dinner, the little boy said, "The preacher eats like a "P-I-G" doesn't he, Daddy?") How embarrassing! Little children can say some things that turn our faces pink! But they don't cover up their real feelings.
God wants us to have the openness and honesty of a little child in our approach to God.
One of the most infectious joys of a child is their innocent laughter. Don't we love to hear a baby laugh? The other day when our daughter rang us, I could hear our little grandson laughing in the background; the lovely laugh of a little baby. God wants us to delight in Him just like a little child is delighted by things we do for them. Do you have an image of God as a stern, old, grumpy man? That is not what the Bible says. In Matthew 7:9-11 it says, "What man is there among you, who if his son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? Or, if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent [snake]? If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven, give good things to those who ask Him!"
Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Sometimes people read these words and say, "How come so many bad things are happening to me?" or, "Why is my life such a mess?" The question to ask is: "Is Jesus the delight of your life?" How can you expect Him to delight you if He is not your delight? Often people live their life without any concern for doing God's will and then when things get into a mess, they blame God! How can we expect God to bless us if we have no time for Him? Am I saying that if we delight in God that nothing bad will happen to us? No! We live in a world affected by sin (sin in general, and the sin of other people). Those who love the Lord will face sickness and problems just like anyone else. (Although, if we walk in obedience to God and His Word, we will avoid those sicknesses and problems brought on ourselves by bad living. So, in that sense we are spared some of life's problems). But, if our delight is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbour as ourself, we can delight in the Lord even in the middle of life's difficulties. If Christians were spared problems, people would become Christians just for what they can get out of it, and not because they love God more than life itself.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God!"
Are you His child? Have you experienced spiritual birth?
Are you living in innocence of heart before God?
Are you living life like an innocent child with complete trust and confidence in your Heavenly Father?
Are you delighting in God? Does He delight in you?
There is no better time than the present to become His child. No better time than now to continue walking in child-like trust in our Lord.
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life