The temptation in this passage has often been to create an “us vs them” interpretation. And, it is easy to draw circular reasoning out of the text to imply that if someone doesn’t listen to you then they never would’ve in the first place. But we have to remember that the context entering into 1 John 4 is not a circular one. John has already qualified that the “them,” in the equation, is not those who disagree with Christians, but those who disagree with Christ. They claim Christ while rejecting his body, historicity, or application of his will for us. It is those people against, us, who affirm his body, his historicity, and his commands. John notes that speech is very important here. This is because Jesus taught him that “it is not what goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out.” Those who are not aligned with Christ can be seen by their speech. Their speech comes from a different worldview. It is one that is lesser and impotent. We must listen to our own speech. What worldview does it come from? Does it affirm Christ? We need to conform our will to his, even in our speech. This is an important and often overlooked facet of love in one another.
This post first appeared at JoshMcGary.com