It didn’t matter whether they were young in the faith, seasoned in the faith, or actively contending for the faith, John says to each, “I am writing to you.”
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.
(1John 2:12-14 ESV)
Sometimes I spin my wheels on these verses trying to get clear on the why of the repetition, the what of the differentiation, and the who of the application. But this morning, what hits me is that John is writing to everyone. No one’s excluded because they’re just new to this stuff. No one is given a pass because they’ve walked in the way for decades. Nor is anyone exempted because they’re overcomers with the battle scars to prove it. To each and to all, says John, “I write to you,” because they all needed to hear it and heed it.
And if I look at the immediate context before and after these verses, beyond whatever else John wants all believers to know, he wants them to know a couple of things about loving. What to love. What not to love.
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
(1John 2:10 ESV)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.
Everyone, love your brother in Christ. Love your sister in Christ. It’s the evidence of abiding in light. It’s the visible outworking of the inner reality of living in relationship with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.
Everyone, don’t love the ways of this world or the stuff in it. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle” (CSB) is what the world seeks to exploit. Don’t buy into it. Don’t feed on it. Don’t pursue it. Don’t give yourself to it. That’s not the Father’s love. That’s not the way of life and life abundantly (Jn. 10:10), for “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1Jn. 2:17).
Everyone — all you who have fellowship with one another as you fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1Jn. 1:3) — listen up!
I can major on the minors of trying to slice and dice the nuances of who John is writing to or, I can have ears to hear what John is saying to everyone. So this morning, I’m chewing on the latter and not fretting about the former.
Love one another. Don’t love the world.
By Your grace. For Your glory.