“By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
What kind of person would you die for? Who would you die for?
This verse suggests strongly that our love for other believers should be so strong and close that we would die for them. This is the complete opposite to the hatefulness we can harbour, as we saw in the previous verse. As the sisters and brothers in Christ we should be so Christ-like that we are willing to emulate our Lord and give our lives for each other. This is not the normal human way, for we protect ourselves at all costs and self-preservation is crucial to our human temperament. There are few, if any, in the reality of our thinking that we would give our lives for. Perhaps a loving and loved partner or favoured children, but not just any old body!
The power of love is not in sentimental words and feelings but in action and open deed. Christ showed us the way in this when He loved us so completely from all eternity, that He willingly and purposefully laid down His life for us to save us from the consequences of the just sentence on our sin. We were not His friends, but sworn enemies who would never seek Him or love Him. Yet his love is so strong that He was willing to die for us that we might know love. This is how we know true love. Through His once for all powerful love for us it is possible for us to experience and know love – his love for us. We only love Christ because He has loved us first.
“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
The sobering truth is we would never love the Lord and never love without Him. Love is from the Spirit of God and the defining mark of the Christian and only the work of the Spirit brings true love into a life. We are not loving creatures because we are so full of self, and to change that selfish trait takes a work of God to show us the way to love.
Jesus gave His life in love for us, so we should be like Him in all our dealings with other people. We should be willing to risk our life for others and to put ourselves in the direct line of fire of the hand of death for the sake of the sisters and brothers, and many even do so for the sake of the outsider. This is the mentality of the Christian missionary who gives up all for the sake of the elect in another place.
“For one will hardly die for a righteous man. Yet perhaps for a good person someone would even dare to die. But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
There have been many dear sisters and brothers who have given all for the sake of Christ and others people to spread the good news of Jesus. They have been infiltrated with the love of their Saviour for them, and have worked out the effect of it in their own thinking and actions. This is the mindset of the believer who follows the Master who showed us the way. We will not naturally die for someone we do not even know, or for someone we consider unworthy. Yet Christ died for us, we, the most unworthy of all, and we must adopt his mindset towards the people of God and the outsider. The way of Christ is one of sacrifice and we give all for His dear sake, as He gave for us.
What about people we don’t agree with, people who are a different sect of belief from us? Would we be willing to die for them? People who think different doctrinal thoughts than us…?
The Lord makes no distinction. We should be willing to even give our lives for any fellow believer in Jesus no matter what their persuasion and belief about issues. This follows on from the command to love each other unconditionally and completely. We do not set ourselves above other people, but do as we would wish to be done to us.
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.”
Beloved, this is a principle of the ChristIan life and the logical outworking of the love of God…are we ready for it…