How Do We Know What Love Is?
By Lynette Kittle
“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” - 1 John 3:16
What is love?
Most of us think of love like the Hollywood version, as a pleasant experience, something easy to give away to others, always feels good in the process, and is painless to express.
Sadly, our human version of love is often offered to others by how it makes us feel rather than for the benefit of the ones we say we love.
Interestingly, when asked why they are marrying their future spouse, engaged couples often list the ways their fiancée makes them feel, mentioning how they help them to be a better person and the ways they make their life better.
It’s a very rare couple, the ones who are looking out for the interest of their future bride or groom more than themselves, wanting to marry the other person because they want to make their future spouse’s life better.
Like Luke 6:32 explains, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”
Yet Jesus showed us how to love those who don't love us, by loving us before we loved Him (1 John 4:19).
We as Christians talk much about Christ's suffering on the cross, of how He died for us, but not as much about His selfless sacrifice of loving sinful people, of facing their rejection, hatred, and mockery on a daily basis. No wonder He is referred to as a Man of sorrows.
Isaiah 53:3, paints the picture of His existence on earth, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.”
Jesus took on the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23), suffering public humiliation, unbelievable sorrow, excruciating pain, and separation from the Father through an agonizing death.
Isaiah 53:4 explains, “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.”
So why would Jesus take on the sins of the world, suffering all the humilities and agonies known to man, bearing all our sinfulness, sicknesses, pain, and sorrows?
Unlike the world’s selfish idea of what true love is, real love selflessly sacrifices for others.1 John 3:16 explains, “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.”
And contrary to what some believe, Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from Him but rather, He freely laid it down. In John 10:18, He said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.”
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, iBelieve.com, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, Startmarriageright.com, growthtrac.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."