16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
I am still in the subject of love. What is love? Many people talks about it but very few know its true meaning. If you happen to be in a religious church, they will tell you they love you but what they really love is your money. So, if you happen to hear a religious preacher or a theologian telling you that he loves you, you should hold tightly to your wallet and run!
Verse 16 above tells us what love truly is, according to God’s personal opinion. In his view, love is real action. Jesus showed his love by laying down his life for us. Please note that Jesus had physically laid down his physically life at the physical cross. He did it openly for everyone to see. He did not do it spiritually. The God of the Bible is capable of doing things physically and promise blessings that can be proven including health and wealth.
This is the difference between the true believers of Jesus Christ and mere worshippers of theology. A true believer dares to believe what God says is true, including those things that can be proven physically like health and wealth. In contrast, theology worshippers can only believe in a God who promises things that cannot be proven. This is the reason why they despise health and wealth. Health and wealth become a stumbling block to them because these things can be proven objectively.
When they see believers who dare to believe in those things, they will persecute them with terms like, “prosperity gospel” as though God is allergic to prosperity.
The second part of Verse 16 tells us that since Jesus can lay down his life for us, we also ought to do the same for others. Does this mean we must also die? If that is true, I am out of here. I am not interested in joining a religion of death. Thank God, he explained it in the following verse, Verse 17.
Verse 17 tells us the meaning of laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters. When we have the love of God in us, we will have a natural pity to our brothers and sisters who are poor. We will to help them provided we have the material possessions to do so.
Do you see the implication here? All believers regardless of the rich or poor, who have the love of God in their hearts will have pity on others who are poor. They will want to help them materially. However, only the rich (with material possessions) can really do it.
This is another way of saying that God wants every believer to be rich in lots of material possessions.
In other words, Verse 17 is not a promotion for communism. God is not a communist.
Finally in Verse 18, we are exhorted in not just keeping our love in words only. Love is real action. If you have the love of God in your heart, you should act now. If are poor, God wants you to get rich so that you can used your riches to help the poor. If you are already rich, God wants you to be richer so that you can help even more poor people.
Don’t be selfish. This is the true meaning of love.