1 John 2:9-10
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
Wrapped up in these verses of light, darkness, love and hate is a scandal. Can you see it? We find it right in the middle of our passage and it has to do with stumbling.
The Greek word for stumble is skandalon , and its definition gives us a sense of something a little more serious than a skinned knee. A skandalon is the trigger to a trap. You know, like a mouse trap. The bait is the skandalon. The visual in this verse is great. Trip the bait, the trap drops, and we find ourselves in darkness.
If you haven’t detected the connection already, scandal is a derivative of skandalon. In the English, we see its definition as a disgraceful or discreditable action. The scandal comes into play when we say we are living for God (living in the light), but hate our neighbor. Plain and simple, this is God’s people acting very ungodly. If we look back just a few verses, we see John saying, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what [Jesus] commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” (1 John 2:4) That’s very scandalous behavior for those who claim to be displaying God’s image to the world.
In this passage, John reminds us to not trigger the trap that will land us in scandal and darkness. How? We must love. “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble” (vs. 10). The alternative is living in darkness, and the darkness will only increase and destroy the life God wants us to experience.
Choosing to love all people keeps our hearts united us with Jesus and reflecting the love He has for the world (John 3:16). He loves the people of this world, and so must we if we claim to be in the light (His truth). It may not always be easy, but it is always worth it. Avoid the scandal that living in darkness brings. Live and love like Jesus.
What steps must you take to live like Jesus?