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. 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? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18 NIV)
What is love? We use this word in so many different ways that it is hard to provide a single definition for it. Greek was better, with multiple different words to express different kinds of love. And in this case, the word is agape. This word is typically used for God’s love for people and the love we should have for God and for each other. But John, rather than providing a verbal definition of the word, used an example. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for sinners was an act of love. When we want to know what real love is, we need to look no further than the cross.
Love One Another
Earlier, John expressed Jesus’ command that we love one another. Given Jesus’ example, how can we express love for each other? How do I lay down my life for a brother or sister in Christ? John goes on to share a very practical form of laying down our lives. It is in providing for the needs of others. If I see a brother or sister with physical needs, and it is within my ability to help them, then I should. If I don’t, John says, how can I claim that God’s love is in me?
Our love should not be just something we talk about. It should be something that is expressed in what we do. That may be in sharing my possessions with others in need. It may be in sharing my time and abilities with another. Or it may be as simple as speaking a comforting or encouraging word. But in whatever form it takes, let’s love one another, laying down our lives, as Christ first loved us.