1 John 3:16-20


1 John 3:16 (KJB)
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Perceive we - We have known
Here we have a good understanding of the love of God. God did not just say He loved us but He showed that His love was a real thing in that the Lord Jesus Christ had laid down His life for the Christians. The love of God is a proactive love and not one of mere words. When a person becomes saved, they are endued with the love of God which means that the Christian life is not to be one of mere words only. If we truly have the love of God in us, then we too will lay our lives down for the brethren. Now this does not necessarily mean that we give our lives in death (although it could mean that) but we give our lives in service to others. As we give our lives in service to others, we are neglecting ourselves, and in that manner we are giving of our lives to others. Christian love must be an active love because we see that Christ gave His life for us and now it is our turn to be sacrificial in ours. We have known the love of God because we saw it in action upon Calvary.
1 John 3:17 (KJB)
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Seeth - Look at, observe, or notice
Shutteth up - Lock or close
John hits at the heart of proactive Christian love because our view on material goods is important. Here John is stating a major difference between the true and false believer. If a person has much material wealth or even a moderate amount and notices there are others in the congregation or those they personally know that have needs, but literally lock up their hearts toward them so they will not have to give any of their material goods, then it is great possibility that they were never saved. Now this may not always be the case as during the 28 years I have been saved, I have met many cheap Christians. What John has in view here are those who are beyond cheap, who find their security in material wealth, would refuse to relinquish any of those goods because they would be allowing their security to be lessened. This is the essence of practical love that we give of the things which the Lord has given to us. Now there is such a thing as a cheap Christian and when Christians are cheap, they are agreeing with the world’s belief that more things are better and necessary.
For the Christian, we have a much better understanding of these things because we know that in giving, we increase more, not only because of the promises of God but because of the fruit that it yields. Let me quote the words of Jim Eliot who was martyred by the Auca Indians. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Eliot lived those words to the utmost. It was his martyrdom which paved the way for the evangelization of the Auca Indians. Unsaved people who cling to their wealth believe that somehow it will give them prolonged life are totally deceived. Christians who follow in their footsteps are acting foolish because when the Lord finally wraps up this entire world, what fruit will they be able to give to the Lord. Will there be anyone in Heaven that can point to them and state that it was through their generosity that they heard the Gospel and became saved? (Luke 16:9 KJV) And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
1 John 3:18 (KJB)
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Hypocritical love is when a person says they love someone yet will never help them nor become involved in their life. John is warning the Christians to beware that their love is not of the hypocritical nature and that it is real. He is telling the Christians to watch that their love is not only in words or flattering of the tongue. The love that is shown must be done in truth and not with an ulterior motive, that is, don’t be nice to someone to try and gain an advantage. (Jude 1:16 KJV) These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. Our works of love must be without a secondary or hidden agenda. When you do something for someone, do it expecting nothing in return.
1 John 3:19 (KJB)
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
Shall assure - Convince or satisfy
Our hearts will be assured before the Lord when we know that our acts of love are without any hidden agendas. This is the essence of true and pure Christian love. It is a test of genuine Christian love when we can do something without expecting a return. (Luke 14:13-14 KJV) But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: {14} And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. True Christian love is not done with the spirit of one hand washing the other, that is, if I do this then they will do that for me. Our responsibility is to love without expecting repayment.
1 John 3:20 (KJB)
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Condemn - Judge, scorn, or observe fault
Here John is stating that just in case our love motives are wrong and our hearts (conscience) condemn us by judging those motives, we can be sure that God is greater than our heart and he knows all about it. He can and will correct us so that we will not commit that same sin again. Sometimes though, we might be a little oversensitive to something we did which was not wrong but we may think it was wrong and in that case God can assure us that we did nothing wrong and comfort us so a case of anxiety does not set in and hinder us in our Christian walk. False guilt can be a great stopper in our Christian walk. It can prevent us from going on in our walk and place undue stress upon us. We can be thankful that God knows the situation in its entirety and that He can give us peace in all situations.