“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?” 1 John 3:16-17
Until we saw Jesus loving and giving his life for us we had no idea what love was.
Think about the implications of the message John is sending in this first sentence of our focus text. Think about the message it’s sending in regards to every other example of love you’ve ever had in your life.
You think you’re mom’s loved you? Think again. You think grandma’s loved you? Not really. You think your kids, your best friend, you husband, your wife’s loved you? Nope.
I’m not intending any disrespect towards you and those that you have your closest relationships with but, the thing is, every single one of us is so infected by sin and all it’s inherent selfishness that even our most selfless actions have a strong current of “how is this going to benefit me” as a part of them. So, the truth is, we don’t have any good examples of love without Jesus.
John’s not overstating reality a particle when he says that we only know what love is because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Jesus paid the ransom price for every undeserving person that has, or ever will, lived on this planet, and that’s all of us. Knowing that the vast majority would refuse to be saved he came, he served, he suffered, and he saved and all because he loves us.
John then goes on to challenge us. If we’ve seen, and accepted, this kind of love we ought to begin practicing it and giving it to our brothers and sisters in the church. We too need to be willing to serve and suffered for the other people that share the pews with us each sabbath.
John makes his point very clearly, and practically, when he asks, “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?”
This is a rhetorical question. His answer’s all ready been given. You can’t shut up your heart and still have God’s love abiding in you.
If you really have a relationship with Jesus you’ll be willing to help a brother or sister when they’re in need. You won’t look for, or reach for, any excuses to give yourself a pass on helping someone else. Jesus showed you what real love is and now nothing else is good enough, the only gift that matches what’s growing in your heart is a gift of genuine love. You simply have to give others the real thing. Only the best you have to give will do.