“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16 (NIV)
We have an innate desire for security and acceptance. As a result, many people live in the constant pursuit of love. But there’s a problem. The concept of love is so twisted today that we no longer understand what it actually means. We toss the word around so casually that its biblical significance gets lost. So, how do we know what real love is?
Well, the Bible talks about love in great detail. It’s described as patient, kind, humble, unselfish, forgiving, and enduring (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Today’s verse tells us that real love is also willing to sacrifice; to give of oneself. For instance, new parents often experience an overpowering sense that they would give everything to protect their newborn child – even their lives.
Yet, God the Father showed His love for us when He “sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us… and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). So, if we want to know what sacrificial love looks like, we look at the Cross. There’s never been a deeper expression of devotion than Jesus willingly laying down His life (John 10:11; 15:13). Our God-given desires for security and acceptance are ultimately met in Him.
God’s love is so overwhelming that we tend to think only in terms of receiving it. But Jesus gives us the ability to love as He loves – sacrificially. The second part of today’s verse reminds us that “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Of course, few of us will be called upon to show love to that degree. So, John brings his point home by saying, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (v17). Real love doesn’t take, it gives unselfishly.
Do your relationships reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ? Your pursuit for acceptance and security was taken care of at the Cross. Jesus not only paid for your salvation, He also made it possible to live daily in His perfect love. No human being can fill the hole in your heart created for God alone. Finding fulfillment in Jesus frees us to love one another as God always intended.