“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 NIV)
The litmus test of Christianity is love. In other words, the way to know if your faith in Christ is authentic is to see if your faith is expressing itself in love (Gal. 5:6b, cf. Jn. 13:34-35; 1Jn. 4:16-21). Your faith is real only to the degree your love is real. If your faith in Christ is not producing Christ’s love in and through you, then your faith is faulty. Ouch!
But, how do we know if our love is real? The litmus test for love is laying down our lives. Christ love for us was proven and demonstrated by His laying down His life for us. Our love for Him is proven and demonstrated by our laying down our lives for others (1Jn. 3:16; 4:20-21).
So, the proof of our faith is how well we love others and the proof of our love is how well we lay down our lives for those we say we love. Again, ouch!
What does this look like in everyday life? Let’s start with our homes, shall we?
Gentlemen, attention please. There is no clearer admonition in scripture then this: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25 NIV).” Are you giving yourself up for your wife? If you’re angry over how she’s not serving you or not following your lead, then the answer is, “No” (Col. 3:19). If you’re not willing to, at least, occasionally, give up rounds of golf, hunting/fishing trips, televised sporting events, or time with your “bros,” then, again, the answer is, “No” (1Pt. 3:7).
Ladies, are you laying down your lives for your husbands? If you’re bitter because they’re not being the “spiritual leader” they’re supposed to be, then the answer is, “No.” If you’re withholding respect until he is “worthy of respect,” then again, the answer is, “No” (see 1Pt. 3:1-2).
Ladies and gentlemen, right now, which paragraph are you more focused on – the one that applies to you, or the one that applies to your spouse? If it’s not the one that applies to you, then, you’re probably not laying your life down in love. If we can’t love the spouse (or brother or sister in Christ) whom we can see, how can we love God whom we do not see (1Jn. 4:19-21)? Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Our faith in Christ isn’t proven by how much scripture we know or how much we go to church or how well we can argue for what’s right. It’s proven by how much love we’re putting into action. Faith without works is dead (Jms. 2:17). The works that prove the life of our faith are the actions of sacrificial love (Jms. 2:14-17, cf., 1Jn. 3:17-18).
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s make sure our faith is authentic. Let’s love one another as Christ has loved us.
© Paul R Downing