Practical Ways to Love Others (1John 4:16-21 & 1John 3: 11-24)
By Moses Owojaiye
1) Humbly Rejoicing in the Progress of Others
First John 3:11-14:
Love is glad when our brothers and sisters are making progress in good habit or good attitude or good behavior. Love rejoices in this growth. And if it happens to be faster than our own growth, then love is humble and rejoices with those who rejoice.
So the lesson for us is: Everywhere you see some growth, some virtue, some, spiritual discipline, some good habit, or good attitude,
rejoice in it.
Give thanks for it.
Don’t resent it.
Don’t be like Cain.
Respond the opposite from Cain. Be inspired by other people’s goodness. Love is humble. Love delights in other people’s good. Love doesn’t protect its flaws. Love takes steps to change them. What a beautiful fellowship where everyone is rejoicing in each other’s strengths not resenting them! This is what the love of God looks like.
2) Meeting the Needs of Others—Even at Great Cost
The second specific way John says the love of God becomes real in our lives through the new birth is found in 1 John 3:16-18: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
He says four things about love here, and they are increasingly specific.
Note that true love derives only from Christ (3: 16, 23). Everyone can show some kind of love, but one can exercise the love called for here without learning it from Christ.
Normally we love others because of something good they have done to us or for good we see in them. Jesus’ love enables to love others in spite of evil done us and the evil done us and the unpleasantness of the one loved, even when the evil is not a single act but a way of life. Such love is only possible if one takes Christ as a model and ask him for strength. Outside of Christ, such love does not exist.
First, he says that love does practical things for people. Verse 18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” He doesn’t mean that talk is not an important way of loving people.
The tongue is full of potential for love and hate. What he means is that where deeds of practical help are called for, don’t settle for talk. Do practical things for each other. Then he tells us something about how seriously we should take this. Verse 16: “We ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Christ loved us by laying down his life for us. When we were born again, this love became our love. There is in the born again person a deep impulse to die to self that others might live. The presence of Christ in the born again person is the presence of a servant’s heart.
A sacrificial spirit.
A readiness to go down that others might go up. Love does not want to prosper at the expense of others. Love wants others to prosper, and if it costs us our life, that’s okay. Jesus will take care of us.
So the first thing John says is that love is practical and does good for others. And the second thing he says is that we will do this even if it is very costly. “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
Third, he says that this will mean very practical sacrifices of things that people need. Verse 17: “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” The way John has in mind for us to lay down our lives for each other is that we share what we have. Love doesn’t think possessively. Love knows that everything belongs to God. We are only managers of his possessions. Everything we have is at his disposal. And God is love. And when we were born again, his love became our love. And now his love governs his possessions in our hands.
See models in the life of Modecai in Esther 10:3; in the early church Acts 4: 32-37; and Jesus in Acts 10:36.
So let’s be first a very practical people who love in deeds and not just words. Then let’s be a sacrificial people who deny ourselves for the sake of others and lay down our lives the way Christ laid down his life. And then let’s be a lavishly generous people with everything we have, knowing that it all belongs to God, and we belong to God. We are his children. We have his nature. And he is love.
3) Be tolerant and generous in forgiving others
The Lord Jesus could say even on the Cross, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). The first martyr of the church, Stephen, said the same thing. Can you forgive like that today? Are you able to forgive those who have hurt you and harmed you and yet profess to be children of God? And if they cannot return your love, there is some question whether they are children of God or not.
This is the real test, the acid test, and it hurts. John gives us the bedrock of it all: Do you love God? And do you love other believers?
If we love those who love us, or if there is a selfish motive in our loving them, there is no value in that. The Lord Jesus said, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:46).
Quote on Marble
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. –1 John 4:7