What Is Love?

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (I John 3:16)

Everyone has some idea of what love is: songs and poems have been written about it, and movies have attempted to portray it. But how can a Christian person know what love really is? John gives us the answer to that here in I John 3:16:

“We know love by this; that He laid down His life for us”. How do we know what love really is? Look at what Jesus did. John 3:16 says “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Love is displayed and defined in what Jesus did for us: despite the cost, and feelings to the contrary, He graciously gave His life for us, so that we who did not deserve it, might be saved for eternity. So love as defined by the ministry of Jesus is NOT a “feeling” or self-satisfaction. In fact it is the opposite of that: it involves self-sacrifice, despite ones feelings, for the ultimate benefit of others.

(As a side note, it is interesting that although there were no “verses” in the original Greek texts of scripture, yet in God’s providence, “John 3:16” in the Gospel of John, and “I John 3:16” from the letter of John, are linked together in this way!)

So what is love, and how do you show it to someone else? Look at the example of Jesus. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us.” Then do for the person whom you would love, what Jesus did for you: “we ought to lay down OUR lives for the brethren.” If you want to love someone, then do what Jesus did: set aside any feelings to the contrary, and sacrifice and give of yourself for the other person’s ultimate good. Then you will be like Jesus. And then you will have demonstrated true love.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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