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1 John 3:16: By This We Know Love

1 John 3:16
[16] By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (ESV)

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, "I love you."
- Billy Graham

So many people claim to know what love is.  Hollywood gives us movies that are more about lust than love.  The love that the world offers is selfish.  It tells us that we deserve to take pleasure in any form that we desire.  We deserve this.  So, we grow up under this influence as prideful, self-serving, brutes that abuse others in order to get what we want.  This is not love.

The Apostle John reminds us that the way we know love is by seeing the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.  He laid down his life for us.  He sacrificed his perfect self for our sinful selves.  If anyone had a right to demand their own rights and get what he wanted it was God himself.  Jesus laid aside his rights and humbled himself so that we could be the recipients of love.

Love is powerful. Love changes hearts.  Love is first and foremost from God.  If your definition of love does not start with God's definition it is not love.  And our passage goes one step further.  Not only are we the recipients of God's wonderful love, we are admonished to lay our lives down for others as well.  Jesus said, "Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

Have you received God's love?  In what ways will you lay down your life for others today?  How can you sacrificially give what you have received?