In the message "So We May Know" we looked at some indicators of a "born again" life. We saw that such a life should be characterized by love; "we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers" (1 John 3:14). Although loving others will not save us, John forcefully states that if we are truly saved we will love one another; "whoever does not love does not know God" (1 John 4:8).
It's interesting to note that in the five chapters of 1 John, the word love is used 46 times. If love is this important, we ought to understand what it means.
1 John 3:16-18
"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. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
John is saying that Jesus set the example for love and that our love for others is a direct result of the love of God within us. As we love God and surrender our life to Jesus Christ, His love fills us and overflows into the lives of those around us. If love for others is lacking, we must lay down our life and increase our love for God; a true increased love for God will certainly increase our love for others.
John also makes it clear that a Godly love for others is not simply an emotional "feeling" or gentle and kind words. When we begin to understand God's love for us - when we catch even a glimpse of His mercy and love in giving us His Son - we will be compelled to express our love with meaningful action such as meeting physical needs, readily forgiving when wronged, and showing Godly compassion when others are hurting. God so desired to be with us for all eternity that He gave His Son and loved us all the way to the cross. We are to love others in this same manner, "because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
Our love for God is demonstrated by our real love for others. Jesus made this clear when He said; "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me" (Matthew 25:40). We are actually loving and serving God as we love and serve others: "I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me" (Matthew 25:35-36).
Love must be an integral part of our Christian walk. Love must be directed up; "love the Lord with ALL your heart" (Mark 12:30), and love must be directed out; "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Let's love as Jesus loved us! Let's look for ways to love with more than words - let's love with an active love.