Prayer: Help us, Oh Lord, to love one another as you love us. We are neglectful in our actions to practice unconditional love and put our own feelings ahead of the needs of others. Our desire is to please you and to bring honor and glory to your name. We can only do that through constant obedience to your commandments. Help us to love others today. Convict us this important tenet of our faith. Amen.
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 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. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:11-24).
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45)
Tangible demonstrations of love for the brethren show the believer's true character, his righteousness. They should be a comfort to us when we feel guilty that we have not met many needs, a condition that prevails no matter how generous we may be. We can overcome feelings of false guilt by remembering that God knows our real motives. He does not judge on the basis of appearance, as we often judge ourselves. The practice of such self-sacrificing love for the brethren can give us boldness in God's presence now as we pray and, in the future, when we stand before Him at His judgment seat. Obedience results in mutual abiding, God in man and man in God. God "abides" in every obedient believer, but He indwells every believer (cf. John 15:4-5, 7, Romans 8:9. The evidence that God "abides" in us is the manifestation of His Spirit in and through us. This is the first explicit reference to the Holy Spirit in 1 John. – Dr. Thomas Constable
What a warning this is against the evil spirit of hate, revenge, and all that kind of feeling! These things are not compatible with the possession of the life of God. Where hatred lives, there is no life of God in the soul. That evil must be shot to the very heart, by the arrows of almighty grace, or else we are not free from the dominion of the devil. Every man who hates another has the venom of murder in his veins. He may never actually take the deadly weapons into his hand and destroy life; but if he wishes that his brother was out of the way, if he would be glad if no such person existed, that feeling amounts to murder in the judgment of God. It is not the lifting of the dagger, nor the mixing of the poison, that is the essence of the crime of murder; it is the hate that prompts the commission of the deadly deed; so, if we never commit the crime, yet, if the hate be in our heart, we are guilty of murder in the sight of God, and eternal life cannot be abiding in us. – Charles Spurgeon
And this is his commandment - All his commandments in one word. That we should believe and love in the manner and degree which he has taught. This is the greatest and most important command that ever issued from the throne of glory. If this be neglected, no other can be kept: if this is observed, all others are easy. And he that keeps his commandments, who believes and loves, abides in Him, and God in him. Hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us Who witnesses with our spirits that we are His children, and brings forth his fruits of peace, love, holiness. This is the transition to the treating of the Holy Spirit which immediately follows. – John Wesley
As I thought about sacrificial love, I was reminded of the three men, all professing Christians, who saved multiple lives on a French train on Friday, August 17, 2015.
The three friends had planned to spend Friday night in Amsterdam but changed their minds at the last minute and took a train that day headed to Paris, Mr. Skarlatos’s father, Emanuel, told The Oregonian newspaper.
Mr. Sadler, a college student in Sacramento, and Mr. Skarlatos had come to meet with Mr. Stone, who is stationed in the Azores Islands near Portugal. Mr. Skarlatos, who returned to Oregon in July after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, left for Europe on Aug. 11. Mr. Sadler followed the next day. On Monday, Mr. Sadler wrote in a response to a comment on a Facebook photo that he was going to Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona, after having visited Rome, Venice, Munich, and Berlin.
They were on a high-speed train bound for Paris when, after a stop in Brussels, they heard what sounded like gunfire, according to Mr. Sadler’s sister, Arissa. After seeing the gunman struggling with another passenger, the three friends rushed to subdue him. No one was critically hurt or killed in the attack. Although Mr. Stone’s thumb was severely cut, he moved quickly to help stem the bleeding of another injured passenger.
Probably the average citizen would not have been so brave. However, these young men were military trained and acted on instinct. In an interview on television, they said that they did not have time to plan. They knew that the gunman would try to kill everyone on the train. They sacrificed their lives to save others that they did not know. That’s sacrificial love. This is a rare but valuable example of what God expects from us (vs. 16).
The willingness to lay down our lives for others is a true expression of love; all be it a radical form (John 15:13). We are also expected to care for the needs of others as God takes care of us. John asks an interesting question when he says if we see another person in need and we do not act in compassion toward that need, how can we possibly say that we have the love of God in us (vs.17).
It is easy to say that we are in love or that we love other people. It is much more difficult to take the necessary actions to prove it (vs. 18). Words that roll off our tongues are cheap and disappear with the wind. Actions of the heart have lasting effects on their recipients.
The 23rd Psalm is an expression of God’s love and compassion for us. Every word is an action that we have felt. Every action has a lasting impact on our lives and draws us closer to God. Jesus transforms us through salvation and convicts us to love others through the presence of His light. Practice love.
Who can contemplate the love of GOD, as set forth in this Chapter, in adopting sinners into his family, and calling them sons of GOD, without being overwhelmed in the view? To behold some of the LORD'S family, indigent and poor in all the worldly accommodations of this life; and yet by regeneration, to know them kings and priests to GOD and the FATHER? They are indeed unnoticed, unguarded, yea, often despised by the great ones of the earth; and yet, considered in CHRIST it may be said of them; of whom the world is not worthy! And though overlooked and disowned now, what will be the consternation of the ungodly at that great day, when they shall behold them in the likeness of Him, in whose image they will arise. – Robert Hooker
Lesson within the Lesson:
What is the single most important outcome of the actions of the young men on the French train?
Love requires sacrifice. Give an example of someone who showed sacrificial love to you or one of your loved ones?
Give an example of a time when you reacted to another person with needs greater than yours?
How do you practice love in your life? Read 1 Timothy 4:15, 1 Corinthians 13, and 1 Peter 4:8.
Oh, Love Divine
Oh, love divine how can it be,
That You would die upon a tree,
Exposed, ashamed for all to see,
To rescue one like me.
Oh, wonderous love now we see,
Your desire to set us free,
With eternal hope that we,
Would serve and glorify Thee.
You captured my heart so willingly.
You filled by life with ecstasy.
To live my faith so openly.
That we might truly be,
Though some might disagree,
A light that shines eternally.
Oh, love divine how can it be,
That you have given life so free,
To man who rejected openly,
And treated You so crassly.
Oh, glorious Savior sent to me,
Who ne’er deserved a single plea.
The love of world the death decree,
Love of self, stupidity.
But You with love and charity,
Reached out to bring us clarity,
Entrapped in a disparity
Provided such a rarity,
You gave Your life so openly.
A death that all who wished could see.
Through one death a guarantee,
Life that lives eternally. – Bruce
 Dr. Thomas Constable, Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable, Public Domain, planobiblechapel.org/constable-notes/, P. 85-86.
 Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon's Gems, Ibid.
 John Wesley, John Wesley’s Notes of the Bible, Ibid, P. 490.
 By ASHLEY SOUTHALL, 3 Who Stopped Train Attack Were Boyhood Friends, © 2015 The New York Times Company, AUG. 22, 2015, nytimes.com/2015/08/23 /world/europe/3-heroes-who-stopped-train-attack-were-boyhood-friends.html?_r=0.
 Robert Hawker, The Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary, Ibid, P. 40.