Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!” I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans. We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us. We live as orphans in a scary world. But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.
In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”. The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons). The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.
Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.
What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)
1. 1John 2:1
2. 1John 2:12
3. 1John 2:28
4. 1John 3:7
5. 1John 3:18
6. 1John 4:4
7. 1John 5:21
Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.
Now look again at the second chapter. In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.
So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord. John pictures it as different stages of human growth: babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers). Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. 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. 1 John 2:13-14
List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:
1. babes, infants =
2. young men =
3. fathers =
While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth. Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.
1. Baby Christians
2. Maturing young Christians:
3. Fathers/mothers in the faith:
Meditate on this central thought of 1 John. Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
If you are studying with a group:
1. What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need? Why?
2. Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John. Discuss any that jump out at you.
3. Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in? Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?
4. Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?
Pray for each person immediately after sharing. Invite the Lord into the area of concern.