Together in Christ: 'What Real Love Is!' — 1 John 3:16-18

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion — how can God's love be in that person?

Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

— 1 John 3:16-18 NLT

Key Thought

I'd rather see something happen than have someone who has seen it describe it to me. The emotions of the moment, the fragrances in the air, the glint of sunlight reflecting on the water... We all prefer to experience things because we want to know they are real so that we can treasure them in our hearts! We don't want a mere second-hand recounting of something special.

This principle of experiencing something rather than merely hearing about it is even more important with love. Love must be demonstrated because talk can be cheap. Loving actions, especially sacrificial loving actions, are essential for us to demonstrate our love to others.

That's why in the Bible, God never just said, "I love you!" He always demonstrated that love by His actions. He calls us to do the same. The Father told Jesus, and others nearby Jesus, that He loved His Son. [1] Then, God fully and immediately demonstrated that love when He opened the heavens, and the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. Also, God will further display His love for the Son in the future by having every knee bow to Jesus. [2] God wants us to tell others that we love them but doesn't want us to stop at just saying the words. [3] Remember the classic Scripture that is so precious to us?

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son..." [4]

God tells us that He loves us, but he also demonstrates that love by sending Jesus to us and giving His Son for our sins to demonstrate His love to us! [5] John's point should be powerfully clear to us: Don't just talk about your love for each other, but demonstrate it!

Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
[1] Luke 3:21-22; Mark 9:7.
[2] Philippians 2:9-11.
[3] A meaningful definition of love is considering someone else's needs and desires above your own. Although Paul didn't use the word "love" in Philippians 2:3-4 NIV, love is what he was describing. In the subsequent verses (Philippians 2:5-11), he described how Jesus personified considering our needs above His own and how God rewarded Him.
[4] John 3:16 — Underlining added for emphasis.
[5] Romans 5:6-11.

Today's Prayer

Father, thank You both for saying You love me and demonstrating that love to me in Jesus. I am humbled and recognize that You did this for me when I was undeserving. [A] Righteous Father, I want to demonstrate my love in simple and sacrificial ways as well as creative and consistent ways to those around me. I ask, dear Father, that the Holy Spirit empower me to love and give me ears to hear and a heart to understand the best ways to demonstrate my love to those around me. I ask this because I deeply appreciate Your love demonstrated to me in Jesus. Amen.

[A] Romans 5:6-11 NIV emphasizes that God demonstrated His love for each of us in that, when we were "powerless," "ungodly," "sinners," and "enemies," Christ died for us.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 5:6-11
  • 1 John 4:7-16

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Illustration

Illustration of 1 John 3:16-18 NLT — We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion — how can God's love be in that person?

Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.