The Test of Love
1 John 3:10-24
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]
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” [Jn 14:15] Love is the Social Test; keeping His commandments is the Moral Test. Remember that John applies these and one other [the Doctrinal Test – Who do you say that Jesus is?] to professing Christians, and even more so professing teachers and leaders in the church. We’ve already seen these highlighted in our 1 John study; we will see them highlighted again. Repetitive teaching is effective teaching because we sheep are slow of learning. So in our text this morning we will [once again] be reminded of the test of love.
John states that we know love because we know Jesus. Do you know [profess] Jesus? If yes then you ought to know love. Jesus exemplified agape [love] by laying down His life for others. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” John then goes on to write, “And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
There involves two aspects of “laying down our lives.” There is the ultimate giving up our physical lives. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend.” [Jn 15:13] Foxes Book of Martyrs records numerous examples; the literal laying down one’s physical life for the cause of Christ. And in so doing the name of Jesus and Word of God has gone out to others. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” [Tertullian] It is the ultimate sacrifice of love, to lay down one’s life. Our Lord not only taught this; He did it!
Jesus laid down His life for sinners like you and I. Now you might think that this kind of sacrifice is impossible. Well, you’re right; it is, in our own strength. But I have to believe that there is a unique and supernatural work of God’s grace for those who are martyred. We read of them in the Bible, and we can identify them in ones of faith throughout the ages.
But there is a day-to-day “laying down one’s life” as well. It is demonstrated in daily living; in putting God first. It is the stepping outside of “self” and inside the Divine order of God and others. It comes, not by trying harder, but through the anointing of the Spirit.
I would encourage you this morning; ask for the supernatural anointing of God upon your life. Ask the Lord to pour out His Spirit upon you, so that you, too, can love even as He has loved. It is not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit. O taste and see that He is good!