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. 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?
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18
History and Context:
1 John does not name an author, but it has been labeled as John's. This is because the style is extremely similar to the unique style of the Gospel written by the Apostle John. The date of this letter is probably at the close of the first century when the Christian faith was around 50 to 60 years old. At this time John was probably the last of the original apostles and the church was struggling to not be influenced by surrounding ideas and philosophies. Most notable was gnosticism: the belief that the physical and spiritual were completely separate, and that all things physical were evil and all things spiritual were good. This belief led to much immorality as they believed that what was done in the physical didn't matter and could not effect the spiritual, but it also ultimately led to the denial that Jesus came in human flesh and therefore the denial of Jesus' death as a spirit cannot die. These uprooted the very core of the Christian faith and John ultimately wrote this letter to counter that philosophy.
John writes here about the difference between words and actions. One of the greatest themes throughout the letter is love, specifically that we should love each other. Here John shows us practically what it means to love one another. First of all, he gives us the example of Christ. Christ showed s what love is by giving up His life for us. John tells us that we should be willing to follow Christ's example and give up our lives for each other. If someone is in need than we love them by giving them what they need. It does not help to simply say "God bless you" when they are hungry and we have not given them something to eat. This message is also portrayed in James 2:15-16
"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"
Love someone today! But don't love them simply with your words, because that is not truly love. Love them with your actions. It might, and probably will, cost you something. For Jesus it cost Him His life! So find someone today who is in need and help them in love, not asking for something in return, not even necessarily to preach the Gospel, but simply to love them.
Lord, lead me to someone who needs your love today! In Jesus' name, Amen!