1 John 3:16–23 (NKJV)
After writing about living righteously and loving one another, John here digs deeper into the reach of love described previously. Here, he describes the depth of love God had for mankind in the redemption and the appropriate response to that love from the redeemed.
16 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. 17 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 Johyn 3:16-17
John writes that the ends to which God would go for His people are limitless. Jesus actually laid down His life for us at the crucifixion. The sacrifice of one’s life for another is lauded in many Biblical passages as the ultimate example of sacrifice. To take one’s place in execution is a massive ask and a powerful statement all at once. In response to this great sacrifice and payment for other’s sins, God asks for those redeemed to lay down their lives for one another. Jesus had set the example for us, and asks us to do the same. Perhaps we will not have to die for someone else, but we can allow ourselves to be inconvenienced, to be pressed into service, to give money or goods, or to be somehow even put in danger for the sake of another. John speaks specifically of the opportunity to give of our belongings or finances in order to help another. If we do not share our bounty, then John says that the love of God does not abide within us. Be givers of the love of God through your assistance and your sacrifice.
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.1 John 3:18-23
John then goes on to distinguish between loving with words and loving in deeds. It is one thing to encourage someone or tell them that you are praying for them, but it is something else entirely to do something physically or tangibly to help another. Be active in your assistance of others and the help you give, see it through to the end. John then addresses the results of this Godly love. We know we are of the truth and can stand before God in holiness, if we live in the love of God and act on the opportunities given to help others. God will convict us from sin, and then will assure us of His forgiveness if we repent. When we live in the will of God and keep His commandments, we can be assured that God will grant our petitions and give us what we need. John summarizes this discussion with the following commandment: “that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” God does not want passive Christians. God does not want mean Christians. God does not want sinful Christians. He wants righteous, loving Christians that represent Him well and love those in need of love. Give Him your love. Give Him you all. Then give Him to everyone you can!