Two teenage Chinese brothers are living with us as they attend school in the US. Since we have three biological sons, my wife and I call Dongyao and Dongpeng our “Chinese sons.” They have loving parents in China, but we’re also striving to love them well. We now have five kids!

The apostle John had ministered for a couple of decades among the Gentiles in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey). As he sat down to pen a letter to the believers that he loved and cared for, these words gushed out: “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1).

It’s true: If we belong to God, we’re His kids. And John unfolds what that means:

We have the image of Jesus, and one day we will dwell with Him. John writes, “We are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears” (1 John 3:2).

We’re to keep ourselves pure, “just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). Since we’re God’s kids through salvation in Jesus, we shouldn’t persist in sin—it goes against the new nature we’ve been given. John writes, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them” (1 John 3:9).

Notice John’s words: makes “a practice of sinning.” As he previously laid out in 1 John 3:6, the issue isn’t the occasional sin. Since we still battle a sin nature, we will all fall from time to time. But to persist in a sin doesn’t reflect God and His holiness—we don’t look like His kids.

John concludes: “Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God” (1 John 3:10). Instead, when we exhibit righteous and loving ways we show that we’re His kids!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 20:1-18