WHAT DOES LOVE DO? 1 John 3:16-24
Last week we talked about being Abba’s children – loved, growing like Him, and being distinct from the world. It is our lifelong trek to move toward Christ-likeness and we are never more like Him than when we grow in our ability to love as He did. What does “love” do?
1 John 3:16-24, HCSB
16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him? 18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. 19 This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, 20 even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things. 21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight. 23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.
1. LOVE SACRIFICES SELF (1 John 3:16)
Jesus is the one who teaches us love. What examples of love in His life can you remember? The cross is the ultimate act of love. As we live we grow in our understanding [AMP: By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand)] . How can we lay down our lives for our brothers?
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. ~Philippians 2:3
When we lay down the completely normal desire to live for ourselves, and when we instead allow the love of God to reorient us toward the needs of others.
2. LOVE SERVES OTHERS (1 John 3:17)
Who among us has “this worlds’ goods”? We all do. It would be hard to imagine what Jesus would say of us today in a world in which almost half the people live on less than two dollars a day. Believing in Christ means believing that Christ saves us by making us like himself.
“Faith alone, the Reformers said, is all that is required for salvation. but faith is never alone. When God creates saving faith in our hearts, God creates active love. Faith in Jesus Christ is faith that transforms the believing heart, making it a self-sacrificed heart.” Ronald Cole-Turner, Feasting on the Word.
The question is not having this world’s goods, but what do we do with them? God’s love will not let us ‘close our eyes’ [AMP: closes his heart of compassion against] Compassion is the key to serving others. We cannot love God and ignore those in need. Our relationship with God is connected with our love for others.
I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
3. LOVE SURPASSES WORDS (1 John 3:18)
Love as a feeling is nice, but not helpful. What if Christ had only felt love for us? What we learn from Him is that love is demonstrated throughout our lives. Truth Leads to Action. Love is not always giving things away. Sometimes it is helping someone stand up on their own. Love is action, not just emotion.
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.”~C.S. Lewis
4. LOVE SEEKS TO OBEY (1 John 3:19-23)
When we belong to Christ we strive to obey Him (19). Obedience leads to confidence before God. How can we be confident when we struggle with obedience … falling short of His glory?
Obedience and our Conscience: Our conscience can be a friend, directing our lives. Our conscience can be an enemy when won’t experience God’s grace. Remember that God is greater than our conscience! He knows all things – he knows our sincerity. He knows all things – our apathy. Since God is greater than our conscience, how do we have confidence before Him?
Obedience and Confidence (21-23)
Keep on praying (22). Obedience puts us in sync with His will; He hears! We are trying to please Him, not trying to get Him to please us.
Keep on Trusting (23a We believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ.)
Keep on Loving (23b Love one another as he commanded us).
Keep on Abiding (24 The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him.)
Keep Confidence the strength is not in you but in God (24 And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.)
On May 29, 1914 the Empress of Ireland sank with 130 Salvation Army officers on board. 109 of them were drowned, and not one of their bodies that was picked up had on a life vest. The few survivors told how the Salvationists, finding that there were not enough life preservers for all, took off their own and strapped them upon even strong men, saying, “I can die better than you can.”
Where is Love calling you to sacrifice and serve today?
LifeGroup Discussion Questions
1. In our text the sacrifice of Jesus as an act of love is prominent. What is one of your favorite New Testament stories about Jesus’ love for others?
2. How might 1 John 3:16 read to a first century (or 21st century) Christian who was under the threat of persecution? What would they understand their instruction to be? How would someone lay down their lives for another today?
3. What does 1 John 3:17 teach regarding the Christian’s view of ‘stuff’?
*Why do you think we struggle with having too great attention to material goods?
*How can we obey this command on a practical level?
*How does 1 John 2:15-17 relate to this discussion?
4. Why was it necessary for John to emphasize loving ‘in word’ and ‘in deed’? We use the word ‘love’ loosely, but love should be accompanied by an action.
*What are some ways we can express love to those in our church family who may be hurting?
*What are some ways we can express love individually as we live out each day in the community?
*How is love in action expressed in your home?
5. John’s section on conscience is meaningful (1 John 3:19-21).
*In what ways do Christians especially struggle with guilt wrongly felt?
*Why is this struggle so big?
*This section has consistently puzzled commentators. Some have seen it as an encouragement, some a rebuke.
-What does this text say to you from the perspective of God knowing all things – especially our sincerity and desire.
– What does this text say to you from the perspective of God knowing all things – especially our apathy.
6. Verse 24 says, “ And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.” What are some ways that the presence of the Holy Spirit can give you assurance? How could Galatians 5:22-23 relate to this?
For personal devotion this week:
Do the ways you treat certain other believers reveal any areas of hate in you? Is there anyone you are refusing to love? If so, how does this affect your relationship with God? What can you do about this?
David L. Allen’s Preaching the Word Series, 1-3 John.
Feasting on the Word for Year B.
LifeChange Bible Studies.