The first and most natural tendency when embarking upon a Bible lesson is to read the underlying text. What happens, though, if in reading the current text the previous is not recalled? At the very least some points will be missed, especially if the author is building point upon point.
The readership of John’s letter is in need of a boost, a leg up, a cheering on. He has been going about this and in the verses which lead up to today’s passage the pitch of encouragement has been raising sentence by sentence. We need to hitch back into those verses so that the sixth hits us at the appropriate pitch and does not try to start back at the first rung on the ladder John is composing.
“Are you worried about love for God?” John semi-asked. “You obey, don’t you?” While reading the letter the people would think…yes…to both of these questions. “Well, guess what?” John is writing. “That is how you prove your love for God. It may seem so mundane, and ho-hum, so plow-through, tough-it-out, but do you know what? It is super important. Look at those steps you take in obedience to God’s commands and tell your doubting, whinny, accusing innards to shut-up. Obedience is a proof of your love for God.” That one inkling that can be taken from verses 2 and 3.
John does not stop there, but again semi-asks, “Do you have faith that God’s promises are on target?” To which they might stutteringly reply, “I guess I do, but overcoming? Like you say in verse 4? Overcoming is such a strong word. It is so Rah! Rah! ”
John, looking in on these people, has noticed that they have enough belief that God is telling the truth to change what they do. They have discarded their natural, human inclinations and picked up God’s directives. As such they are obeying the lifeguards of God, the do’s and don’ts God emphasized. To that John says, “Don’t say, ‘I don’t feel Rah! Rah! so I must be missing the victory. No. You have faith. That is to be celebrated. It is important, not mundane, minimal, nothing. Look at it with that type of perspective and don’t wilt about your day.” That is verse 4.
Then in verse 5, John ties these things to Jesus Christ, the wellspring of life. “See you have overcome. Who can do this? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. You believe that, don’t you?” “Yes,” they would think or maybe even say.
So the things of God that this Jesus following people-group has assimilated are the matterful mundane. They may seem ordinary and may seem as such to us as well, but they are not. They are extraordinary, God-given and should be rejoiced in, not mumbled through.