LOVE IS A VERB
Lord, teach me to love the way You love.
Read 1 JOHN 3:11–24
More on Love and Hatred
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
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.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
a 1 John 3:13 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 16.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Love is an action requiring your involvement and active participation. You cannot sit back and expect the world will serve it to you” (Stephen Covey, 1932–2012).
Being conformed into the glorious and loving image of Jesus must materialize in our lives. John makes it practical by explaining what this looks like: not hatred, but selfless love for others. For John, it’s always the dual call of verse 23: to believe in the name of Christ and to love one another in obedience to him. This summarizes his message in the letter. This kind of life leads to living in God and God living in us.
John holds up Jesus as the ultimate example of what love is by how He laid down His life for us. He challenges us to also lay down our lives for others. The love of God will compel us to have pity on our brother and sister in need; John implores us not to love merely with words or speech but in action and in truth (with genuine results).
Many Christians become very good at saying all the right things and sounding holy, but this isn’t real love. For John, godly love must express itself in genuinely and sacrificially caring for others in need. This is a rigorous, active kind of love, not simply a display of routine feelings and self-righteous words but rather a substantial lifestyle of service towards others. It is this kind of life that leads our hearts to be at rest in his presence and, even if we feel condemned at times by our failures, John says God is greater than this. We can therefore be reassured that we are His, and He will not condemn us. This teaching is similar to that of James 2:14–17, an expression of early Christian ethics and a challenge to us today.
How clearly do your actions demonstrate love? Could you be more generous with your money, possessions, talents, or time? How can you lay down your life for others today?
Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You laid down Your very life for us and took us into the family of God.