What is Love?

Scripture: 1 John 3:16, ‘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.’

 

Observations: After talking about the issue of sin (v4-9) John specifically talks about the sin of not loving one’s brother (v10), which leads to a discussion of love (v11-24). John reminds them that the message they had heard from the beginning is that they should love one another (v11). And then he tells them what love is, that ‘Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.’ For John, this is the defining act of love in all of history, that God came down in the person of Jesus Christ and died in our place, ‘as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (4:10)’ Jesus himself said, ‘greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)’ But for John, Jesus’ death is more than just the greatest definition of love, it is also our greatest example of love. Just as Jesus laid down his life for us so ‘we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.’ John’s point is that our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ should be more than just words, but rather actions (v18). He says, ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (v17)’ Just as Jesus’ love was practical so too should our love for others be practical.

 

Application: Do you know the love of Jesus Christ? Do you understand just how much God loved you, that he died so that you might have life? And in response to God’s love are you willing to lay down your life for him? Are you willing to put him first in everything? And are you willing to lay down your life for others? Are you willing to put others before yourself? And are you willing to do more than just say you’re willing? Do you show your love for God and others in practical ways? Do you help the needy, are you generous with your time and possessions?

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You aren’t content with mere lip service, rather You see into my heart, You know my thoughts and motivations. Lord, forgive me when my faith in You are just words and not action. Forgive me when I say I love You and yet I don’t put You first in my life. Lord, You showed Your great love for me when Jesus laid down His life on the cross in order to rescue me from my sin, and yet I withhold my life from You. Lord, help me to love You and to love others as You have loved me. May I be kind and generous to others as You were kind and generous to me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

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