Summary: If we are to live like our Lord, then our lives will be characterized by love.
In this section of Scripture, the key verse is verse 6. John tells us that as followers of Jesus, we should aspire to live like Him. But what does a Christ-like life look like? John says a Christ-like life is characterized by one primary virtue - Love!
This shouldn't surprise us at all, since John tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Paul said all the requirements of the law are fulfilled by the life of love (Romans 13:10). In fact, Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23, that a life characterized by love is a life which transcends any requirements of any law anyone could devise!
So John tells us that if we are to live like our Lord, love will be the chief characteristic of our life. But how will love be expressed when we live like our Lord?
1. Our life will express love for God - vs. 3-6
How? Through our devotion to His Word (v. 5a).
There are three things involved in obeying the Word of God -
A. We must love it.
Why should we love God's word? Because through it we come to know better the one who loved us enough to give Himself for our sake!
In the May 23,1991 edition of the Houston Chronicle, a story was told about Joyce Simpson, an Atlanta fashion designer, who claimed to receive an answer to her prayers in the middle of a fork full of Pizza Hut's spaghetti. She had prayed for a divine sign to help her decide on whether to stay in the church choir or quit and sing professionally. While driving past the billboard she claimed to have seen Michelangelo's version of Christ's face in strands of spaghetti hanging from a fork. To her, it meant she should stay in the choir.
Fortunately for Joyce, she saw Jesus. Other people claimed it looked like deceased rock star Jim Morrison, a puppet or Willie Nelson.
Listen, the only sure revelation of Jesus Christ is the Word of God! That's why we should love it!
B. We must learn it.
If we're to know Christ better, we need to learn more of His Word.
"The Scriptures point to me!" - John 5:39b (NLT)
Because it is through God's Word that we come to know Christ better, we should make every effort to learn it!
In his book, Know Why You Believe, Paul Little observes that . . . "It is interesting to note that many widely quoted books are read by title only. Three that come to mind are the Bible, Origin Of Species, and Das Kapital. People, speaking with confidence, claim a certain book as the authority for their viewpoint. But when you pin them down, you find that they have really only read the first few pages."
It's interesting that he lists the Bible along with Origin Of Species and Das Kapital. He is saying the typical Christian is as ignorant about the Bible as the typical person is ignorant of books like Origin Of Species and Das Kapital. How about you? Are you among those who has only read the first 50 pages?
"We say we love the Word of God, we say we know it's true. We quote a passage here or there, but never read it through."
When you study the Bible "hit or miss" you're likely to miss more than you hit!
C. We must live it -
It's one thing to love God's Word and learn God's Word, but that's not enough to show we love God. If we love God, we must go on to live it!
Christians like to argue over which version of the Bible is best. Some like the King James version, others the New International Version or the New American Standard Version. But too many prefer the Reversed Standard Version. When we read God's Word and recognize a call for change, we reverse direction and back away from God's call.
Unless we're willing to make what changes might be required to obey God's Word, anything we say about loving God is merely lip service!
2. Our life will express love for others - vs. 6-11
How? Through the distinctiveness of our walk (v. 5b-6).
A. The nature of our love for others - v. 6; 1 John 3:16
The way that we love others when we are living like our Lord is that we will lay down our life for their sake!
B. The need for our loving others like Jesus loves us - vs. 7-8
This command is old, yet is it is new. How can this be?
It is old as far as the Lord's Word is concerned (Leviticus 19:18)!
It is new as far as a lost world is concerned (v. 8b).
This love is something the world knows nothing about! It seeks to meet the needs of others rather than meeting its own needs; concerns itself with the rights of others rather than its own rights; thinks of serving others rather than being served; seeks to give rather than to receive; and is sacrificial rather than selfish.