By Pamela Rose Williams
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” — 1 John 3:16
Today’s verse is but a portion of what John was encouraging and even admonishing fellow believers to do. Why? Because Jesus loved us so much that He (fully God and fully man) laid down His life for “the brethren”. THE BRETHREN — that is another word for Christians.
I could not help but notice that today’s verse begins with the word “Hereby” and so to keep it in context and to get the full meaning of this verse we should look back a bit. Let’s take a look back to verse 13-14 where we read:
” 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
In this context and then continuing on even after verse 16 (and I encourage you to read that in your Bible) we see that John is reminding us that it is because of the love of God that we love our brothers and sisters. It is that undeniably, unconditional love from God that reminds us of “why” we love each other. That love that was put into action when Jesus gave His own life as a ransom for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice — He gave it all. The Bible says “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
I am a friend of God. He laid down His life for me! If you are a believer than you know that He laid down His life for you too!
I find it very intriguing that John compares love to life and death. And so this got me thinking, really thinking about love. Where does love come from? Well, it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). So then to really understand what John is saying here we must understand that true love is evident and possible only in them that have eternal life — to them that are saved. I know this because the Bible tells us that only those that are saved have the Holy Spirit in them and the fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced without the Spirit. I like how Paul puts it here in Ephesians 1:3-14:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
I went all the way back to verse 3 to give you the full context. But I really want you to focus on how this all works. The correct order of things, if you will.
- First we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation (verse 13).
- Then we trusted Christ (believed in what He did for us (verse 12)).
- Then we are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise which guarantees our inheritance of that eternal life. Christ purchased us with his blood and so we are His possession, to be redeemed when He returns to take us home (verses 13-14).
All this to say that once you have the Holy Spirit in you and you choose to walk with Him, He starts producing fruit in your life. You have love (fruit) because you have life (eternal life). Therefore, if you do not have eternal life (because you do not believe in what Christ did for you) then you are dead and you do not have love.
Now just one more thing. What is the opposite of love? The answer is hatred. So then when you are a Christian and you possess that fruit called love and you are persecuted for your faith try and remember that the hatred that the world has for you is because of the love that you have from God. So then, just like John said “ Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” This is why it is so utterly important that we “lay down our lives for the brethren”. The world (unsaved) cannot love and so hatred abounds. The world can only know we are Christians by the fruit that we show and the fruit that remains even when God calls us home.
Things to Think About and Do
- Get in contact with a brother or sister in Christ today and put your love into action by blessing them with a random act of kindness.
- In your Bible find 3 more verses or passages that prove that love is an action and not an emotion.
- Speak to God in prayer and give Him your heartfelt gratitude for all that He has done for you and all that He is going to do for you.
photo credit: Image courtesy of digitalartat FreeDigitalPhotos.net