1 John 3:16-18
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
We all know what John 3:16 says about love, but do we know what 1 John 3:16 says? When it comes to Love we must
- Know Love
Mankind in an attempt to define love has filled volumes and volumes of books and over the centuries love has been the major theme of our music. When you think about all the classic plays, novels and movies, many have been based on the theme of love and yet if you ask ten people to define love, you get ten different definitions. John in contrast says “We know love by this…” he gives us the briefest yet deepest definition of love when he says we cannot know love apart from God. He reminds us that God is love, and if we don’t know Him then we don’t know love. Knowing love is knowing God and we can only know love if we believe that Jesus laid down His life for us. The eternal Creator of all things the one who gave life also gave up His life. This is God’s love in action and this is the love our world needs to know not the staged Hollywood love that is here today and gone tomorrow but a sacrificial serving love. It was love that caused Jesus to leave Heaven for earth and become our Savior! Real love is rare in this world, we worry about running out of oil but the truth is we don’t run on oil, our vehicles do, we, on the other hand, run on love. Love is our greatest resource and yet it seems to runs in short supply while hate dominates our world. So where in the world can we find a good model to follow? Is there such a workable model? How can we come to know what true love is? The best thing we can do is to look at love that came to us, an out of this world love that can into our world. John reminds us that it is Jesus who shows us and teaches us what real love is.
- Share Love
John tells us that we first need to know what love is but that is not where love stops but where it starts. We must share what we know for love is not a knowledge based understanding of Jesus it is knowledge based sharing of Jesus. Even a shallow understanding of God’s love which was demonstrated on Calvary’s cross should inspire us to give of ourselves completely to others. Love here is defined by what we do because what you do defines you. It is not what you feel, what you think, your good intentions, or even your ideals that count, it is what you do. It is the outcome of your life that speaks about who you are. What Jesus did was He came to us, he could’ve stayed in heaven, He could’ve just press control alt delete and rebooted His whole creation, He could’ve just traded us in for some new and improved model. Instead He chose to come personally and live as a human being, to suffer the effects of hatred, to be nailed to a rough wooden cross. What did He do? He identified with our hurts, our pain, our suffering, love is so intensely action based that it hurts with others. Love compels us to act, to do, to demonstrate, to show, to give of oneself. Love is not measured with unseen heartbeats or great intentions, Jesus says He loves but He did not just say it, He showed it! Jesus put His love on display for the whole world when He laid down His life for us. How are you showing your love? John asks the question “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” He says that we should lay down our lives for others and if you are willing to die for others then why would we hold back when it comes to material possession? Being willing to give it all is more than just money or material possessions, the Good Samaritan was willing not only to sacrifice his time, but all his resources. It is the need of others that should provoke the love of God in us.
- Live Love
So we know it and we show it but John said that it should become a life style that we must live love. When Christ laid down his life for us, He chose to forgive, to love with action by coming to die in our place. Love has as its goal looking after another’s welfare, doing something tangible in action not just words. Love is more than just talking it is walking, it is more than just singing but also bringing. In the sacrifice of Christ love made itself known in every breath and every drop of blood. Jesus gained nothing by laying down his life for us and true love needs no reward. His love was not poured out because we earned it or over some self-merit but undeserved. We are not called to talk about love but to take love to others. Loving others requires that we grow up because it takes maturity to live with the tension of what people can be and what they are. Love is what you do because of what He has done.