HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT LOVE IS? “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) Ouch! Jesus gave His all for us. Are we willing to give our all for Him? Are we even willing to sacrifice for our “brothers and sisters” (fellow Christians) to the extent of sharing the essentials of life with them? Or are we all talk and no action?
In the gospel of John Jesus is recorded as saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) The Apostle John was well taught by Jesus and now in this passage reflects that teaching. Jesus was just a few hours away from dying on the cross when He spoke those words. The lesson of His words were driven home by His death. His life given for us proves His love. Now John says that we as Christians must be willing to do the same. No one’s death could produce the same effect as the death of Jesus. Our death will not produce redemption for mankind. But our willingness to suffer the same demonstrates our love for Jesus and for each other. And in the first generations following Jesus’ death many Christians suffered the same fate at the hands of ungodly people. In our generation many Christians in other countries are suffering the same fate. If we are called on to do the same are we willing to sacrifice our lives for Christ and each other as well? That is a sobering question and requires reflection.
But on the more practical “shoe-leather” level do we love Christ and our fellow Christians so much that we are willing to sacrifice our material possessions to meet their needs? This includes most people whom we have never met and probably will not meet this side of heaven. Though we don’t see them are we willing to help them? In America even the poorest among us are richer than most of the people in the world. Does that “blow” your mind so much that you throw up your hands and ignore the issue because the needs of the world are so great? There are many Christian organizations that can help you in this area.
But how about those Christians that live around you and are in need? Are you aware of who they are and do you have a plan for helping them so that you can demonstrate God’s love for them? There are many organizations in America (Christian & non-Christian) that work to provide for the needy around us. They could help you in demonstrating your love for those in need. But should we not also be “hands on” and help other individual Christians in need as God brings them into our path? We may meet them in our church or even next door to where we live. Or maybe in our family circle. And could we not help as a family as well? Children can learn much from their parents in this realm. Are we willing to teach them through our lives and are we willing to pattern our lives after Jesus?
God may not call for us to give our life through death for the cause of Christ. But God does call for us to love one another as Christians. And God does call for us to grow in our love for Him and one another. And that love is demonstrated through action and sacrifice that may require our time and sacrifice of the things we possess.