|By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
The above scripture is a challenge. It’s easy to look good, to say the right thing, and to be kind to those who are kind to us. But Jesus laid down His life for me, and for you, even when we were still sinners: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And as Jesus laid down His life for us, so we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).
The challenge to be like Jesus is real. The challenge is to not only love in word or talk but also love for real, in action: by lending a helping hand, sharing an encouraging word, and giving as needed to those in need. And this is not only to those who are kind to us, but also to those who aren’t able to pay us back – and even to those who at the moment don’t appreciate what we’re doing for them. It’s what Jesus did for us.
It’s easy to tell people we’ll pray for them, or to direct them to someone else whom we think will help them. It’s much harder to give to others our favored possessions or the money we worked hard to earn. But Jesus said we’re supposed to give without expecting to be repaid, and He meant it: But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35).
The best news is that scripture tells us we’ll be rewarded if we serve the Lord in this manner. The end of the story is that both we and the ones we helped will be rewarded, both now and in eternity. The Bible says clearly, Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life(John 6:27).
I was both challenged and inspired as I read these scriptures: challenged to be more like Christ; and inspired because of the promise of an eternal reward. Whatever we might gain in this life pales in comparison to what we stand to gain in heaven. God is incredibly good to us, and does not fail to follow through with His promises. To have salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is an incredible blessing, and to live for Him is only our reasonable service. I hope you are challenged and inspired to live life in boldness for Christ!
Bridge Street Mission