God is the starting point of understanding love.  We are able to understand and comprehend love because of Jesus’s example.   Jesus lay down his life, literally put his life down, away, surrendered, finished to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others.  We are given this example to follow, in both small and large ways.  To be honest, I’ve stumbled over this scripture before, what is God asking of me?  Am I supposed to literally die for someone?  What does this mean for my practical day to day living as a working mom?  There are smaller, day to day  means to this end of following Jesus.   Choosing love in how we use our time can be powerful examples of laying our lives down to meet the needs of others.

At the heart of John’s teachings on love, we see a call to merge convictions with sincere action.  God’s truth is to lead us to action, not false martyrdom or the desire to please others, or the thirst for the approval of others.  When living and loving in truth, our words are fruitful and our work rewarding.  When we know of other’s needs, we are called to reply with sympathetic action.  I thought a lot about how the scripture in verse 17 notes that when we have materialistically, and see a need, we are to give.  What a powerful reminder.  And I think God’s love goes beyond the material: when we have wealth spiritually and emotionally, we are to give.  How can we meet the spiritual and emotional needs just as effectively?  The spiritual and emotional needs don’t cry out like the material needs do, therefore, we have to share them to make others aware so we can meet them for one another.  When spiritual and emotional needs are met, it is refreshing, and empowering.  We are met face to face with God’s love, and with that love, we can not only persevere, but also reflect that love to others.

Meeting needs does not have to be complicated, in the past two weeks, I have been totally encouraged by simple expressions of love: a big hug at church, someone taking my kid to the bathroom for me (when I take a first deep breath in a long time and suddenly hear “MOMMY, I NEED TO GO POTTY!,)” a text message or simple email.  In these small expressions, I saw God, but in the flesh, in the form of a girlfriend reflecting Jesus.  These woman did not set out in the moment and say “Okay, now I am going to love in action and truth,” they just saw a tired mom of two little kids.  Saw a need.  Met it.  Laid down their life to make mine easier and more encouraged.  Simple.

John reminds us that when we have made a commitment to God, we have embodied a commitment to love as He loves.  His love comes inside, resides, and drives meaningful action.

{Meditations on 1 John 3:16-18}