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Love Indeed

Love indeed is love in deed.

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16, NKJV). 

There is something serendipitous in that John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 each deals with love. John 3:16 speaks of the love of God that shines so gloriously against the bleak backdrop of His holy wrath. It points us to Jesus, the Son of God, who came not to be served but to serve and to lay down His life as a ransom for many. 1 John 3:16 calls us to love in like fashion. “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” (1 John 3:16). 

Biblical love is decidedly other-oriented rather than self-serving. It looks to give rather than to get. It is sacrificial, ready to suffer loss that others may gain. That’s how John depicts love for us. “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 3:17) 

The love God requires of us, models for us, and works in us is tuned in to the needs of others. It looks to those who are in need and says, “I am in a position to help with that.” And it steps up in practical ways to provide. 

Such love is not merely well-wishing. It is noteworthy not for inaction but in action, as John urges us: “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love indeed is love in deed. 

Love portrayed in the Bible is exhibited as an act of the will. After all, are not the commandments to love God and neighbor a summary of the Law? Love can be commanded, and it is, even to our enemy. Our Lord Jesus puts it this way: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27–28). 

Biblical love is counterintuitive. It is not to be governed by the whims of the heart but by the purpose of the will. We purpose to love, despite our feelings, despite the worthiness of the other. While feelings of sympathy and compassion may well motivate us to give, those feelings cannot be the determining factor. God set His love on us while we were yet sinners.   

Such radical love is distinctly Christian in that it follows the example of our Lord Jesus and testifies to His handiwork of grace in our lives. Such love is not natural; it is supernatural, authentic in keeping with the truth. It is the fruit of the Spirit, and is cultivated through His forming Christ in us, a sure symptom of salvation. 

How can you cultivate a greater love for God and neighbor?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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