Love in action

Published 6:22 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

In 1 John 3:16-24, John talks about love in action. John is probably writing his letter about 60 years after Jesus had been crucified and resurrected. 

And the church was having problems as churches always seem to, and John is writing to his flock and reminding them what is important. He is reminding them about the basic commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 

And he says Jesus was the example of love: We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

John asks, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” 

John pleads, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. It is all well and good to talk about love, but it means nothing unless we act out that love. And he gives us a tough example. Christ laid down his life for us — and we should do the same. As my ethics professor from seminary, Ronald Cole-Turner, has put it, this is not intended as a “grand challenge for heroic Christians, but an everyday commandment for ordinary Christians.” 

While it sometimes does come to the ultimate sacrifice as it did for Jesus, Cole-Turner says, “More often, the stakes are lower, but the principle is the same. Laying down our lives, at its core, can mean any number of ways in which we lay aside our claim to own our lives. We lay down our lives when we put others first. We lay down our lives when we live for the good of others. We lay down our lives when we make time for others. To love others is to lay down our life for them. When we lay down the completely normal human desire to live for ourselves, and when instead we allow the love of God to reorient us toward the needs for others, we are laying down our lives.”

Maybe you can think of some ways you can put others first, visiting or bringing some food to a shut-in, helping someone with their light bill, donating food to FACES or helping with one of the builds for Habitat for Humanity. 

In doing so you will be laying down your life for others, you will be showing your love in action.

REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email address is