By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16 (ESV)
I suppose the best place to begin learning how we should demonstrate our love towards others is by examining a biblical occurrence of how love was demonstrated. The apostle John says in the above scripture that we know what love looks like in that Jesus laid down his life for us. Let’s get a mental picture of this.
While Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane a great crowd with swords and clubs can to arrest him. He was betrayed with a kiss by one of his disciples. The remainder of his disciples eventually fled the scene. He was led to the high priest where the scribes and elders had met together and false witnesses testified against him. He was spat upon, struck and taken to appear before Herod and Pilate who later sentenced him to be crucified. He was stripped, scourged, mocked and had a crown of thorns placed on his head. Again he was spat upon and struck in the head with a reed that drove the crown of thorns deeper into his skull. For a distance he was made to carry his cross. When he reached the place of crucifixion he was nailed by his hands and feet to a wooden cross and lifted to hang until death.
What we have just described is what John says love looks like. He wrote in his gospel that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16). Paul said, But God shows (demonstrates) his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV) I think we can safely say that love looks a lot like dying (literally) for the brethren (including sisters according to the Greek). Obviously we cannot die for others in the same way Christ died for us; for the forgiveness of sins. However, a time could arise when God would call us to die to save or protect the life of a fellow believer. Jesus said there is no greater love (John 15:13).
Jesus’s entire life was a demonstration of “laying down your life.” For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV) Paul exhorted us to live like Jesus when he wrote, Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8 ESV) Having the mind of Christ is laying aside our needs (laying down our lives) to meet the needs of others; thinking more highly of others than we do ourselves.
Are you ready to lay down your life for the brothers?
Scriptures for meditation:
John 10:15, 18
1 Corinthians 13:4-7