1 John 3:16-18 NKJV
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.
How do you know that someone loves you? You have heard it said before that loving is giving and giving is loving. Love gives. We get to know love through actions. Love is sacrificial.
Love itself was seen in its highest form, when the Son of God gave himself to die on a cross so that He could save us from sin.
I don’t want to go into deep exegesis of these verses. Allow me share the plain meaning I shared with my students this morning during our devotion time.
Verse 16 says that just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for all mankind, it is logically necessary to lay down our lives for the brethren. We have heard about people die, for example, the martyrs, these laid down their lives for what they believed in and this helped in the advancement of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me use verse 17 to bring the point home. The verse poses a question. If someone has material possessions and sees his neighbour in need and does not help them, how does the love of God abide in that person?
My simple interpretation of this is that, when you help someone in need, you have basically laid down your life for that person. Look at this way, if you earn one million shillings per month, divide that figure by let’s say 20 days because the other days they are weekends and you don’t go to work. You are earning fifty thousand shillings per day. When you give fifty thousand shillings to someone, it means you have given them an equivalent of one day of your life.
It is sacrificial because you would have spent that money on yourself. When you deny yourself, I believe that you are laying down your life for another person. You are being a practical Christian, you are not having faith only, you are adding action to your faith.
You are feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Verse 18 urges us to love not in word or tongue but in deed and in truth. Our love for each other should be practical not just words. You know, love to a hungry person is food and love to a naked person is clothing.
Generally we ought to be willing to lay down our lives for others, we ought to be willing to make those comparatively smaller sacrifices which are necessary to relieve our brethren in their distresses; and that if we are unwilling to do this, we can have no evidence that the love of God dwells in us. How can a man love God who does not love those who bear his image? (This paragraph is paraphrased from a Bible commentary)
Let us be practical Christians, let us lay down our lives for our brethren.