So what real example do we have of this love we are studying in action? That is the question answered in the latter part of 1 John 3. For context, reread 1 John 3. In the last few posts I have written about what 1 John tells us about the practical significance and importance of this agape love. Now we see a real example.
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” 1 John 3:16-19
The example we have is the sacrifice that Jesus made of His life for us. Usually when we talk of Jesus laying down His life for us we are speaking of His death on the cross. This passage includes much more. Look at these verses. We are told we are to follow suit and also lay down our lives for the brethren. This is not a discussion of dying for one another, but of living for one another.
While profound and amazing in itself, Jesus did not come to earth just to die for the lost. He could have accomplished that in a matter of a few minutes. He died for us, but He did much more. He surrendered a part of His glory (see John 17:5) to live among His creation, demonstrating love in the life He lived during the years He spent on earth, culminating in His death, burial and resurrection.
As we can see by the text quoted above, what we are called to imitate is not really the dying part. It could come to that, but those circumstances are very rare. We are called to sacrifice in our living for one another. That includes all of us. As John illustrates in verse 17-18, this love is not a matter of talking a good game, but in actions toward one another.
Verse 19 is interesting. “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” Think about that. It is this demonstration in our actions coming from the love in our hearts that provides us the assurance that we are living the love that was modeled by Jesus. Knowing about love is not enough. We must live it.
What do you think about all of this?
The 4th chapter of 1 John also has much to say about love, reinforcing some of these concepts and adding more to our understanding of love in action. In the next post, I plan to begin talking about we we see there.
Until next time…