1John 3:16-18 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso has this world’s good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’ by this we know the love of God and our duty to others. This is the exact counterpart of John 3:16.
‘But whoso hath this world’s good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him’ the acid test of Christianity, by which we know whether we are following the example of God’s love to others. If we are not willing to give of material things to other believers in need, we certainly would not lay down our lives for them (3:16-18). Please note that this is not a Scripture given for tithing as so many churches uses to fill up their own coffers and guilt people out of their money to build up their worldly empires. Ephesians 4:28 explains that no one should steal from others, but rather labour, working with their own hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that is in need. No one is responsible to provide for others financially, but they can help new believers in their needs until they get under God’s provision and trust in Him alone (Matt. 6:32) and lean not on their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-10). The Word teaches that the labourer is worthy of his hire (Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7) and that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (1Thess. 3:10) and for those who seek the kingdom of God first, and His righteousness [to live without sin], they shall be taken care of in all their needs (Matt. 6:33).
‘Little children’ a term used nine times in this epistle (2:1, 12, 13, 18, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4, 21). It is used elsewhere only in John 13:33 and Galatians 4:19. There are four stages of Christian experience: infants; newborn (1Jn. 2:12); little children; those able to walk and talk (1Jn. 2:13); young men; those grown to the prime of life and no longer tossed about like children by fallacies (1Jn. 2:13-14); fathers; those who are matured in the Lord (1Jn. 2:13-14).
‘Let us not love in word, neither in tongue’ we are warned about two ways not to love others: In word, by doctrine and in tongue, by profession; ‘but in deed and in truth’ here there are also two ways given to love others: In deed, by definite acts and in truth, by being genuine in doctrine, profession, and in deeds.