There is a confidence and authenticity to people that are “comfortable in their own skin,” but if we’re honest, realism doesn’t always come naturally to humanity. We are experts at self-delusion and self-rationalization. Think about it. We all have at least one family member or friend that truly believes they have a particular skill, but we know the truth. Consider Uncle Festus. He loves to dance and at your cousin’s wedding he drank a little too much, as usual. Only one thing can happen now. You brace yourself for the convulsive storm of arms and legs, but you know most of the onlookers are oblivious to the spectacle about to take place. By the end of the event, he is confident that he was the life of the party even though the bride has twice cried in shame, and at least one person had to leave the dance floor in need of minor medical attention. Of course, good ole Festus leaves the wedding “more confident in his dancing gift,” but the rest of the guests depart with smart phones filled with Facebook uploads that would make Festus blush. Fortunately, he isn’t on Facebook. Like Uncle Festus, we often slide to extremes in our self-evaluation. From where does our confidence stem, and how realistic is it? After all, “liking to dance” and “being a good dancer” are two separate but valid things. What would make Uncle Festus comfortable with enjoying dancing and knowing he is mediocre at it? In a similar way, what would make us utterly confident in our faith knowing that we don’t have it “all put together” or all the answers? John has referred to his listeners as “beloved,” “little children,” and “children of God.” His words declare “you are the family of God and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” His goal is to firmly plant them in the King’s garden, a place where growth and redemption are certain, and their varied beauty endless. They believe in the name of the Son of God and His name is now part of their own. But in the midst of the beauty of His garden, John is reminding them that the deposed tyrant of the land is still menacing God’s people, even planting weeds and false gardens in their midst, and they must be cautious.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Isaac Serrano is Lead Teaching Pastor of South Valley Community Church. He likes talking theology, history, and culture. Isaac lives in Gilroy with his family. On his days off, he likes to go fishing and venture outdoors. Isaac serves on the leadership board for the Regeneration Project and the school board of Pacific Point Christian Schools.