Love: Defined & Demonstrated

November 16, 2018 Preacher: Gareth Franks Series: Letters of John - Knowing, Walking & Living the Truth

Topic: Christian Living, The Gospel Scripture: 1 John 3:10–20

Home Group Study - Sermon Date: 16 November 2018

Text: 1 John 3:10-18

Opening Discussion: Seven year old Danny was asked what the definition of love was, she answered; “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.” What is the best definition or example of sacrificial love you have heard of, or seen? Share your story.

Observation - What does God’s word say?

There is some real wisdom found in this definition above, from the mouths of babes. John in this first epistle has a definition as well.  Love is… doing what Jesus did!  He writes:  “…if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly in him; This is how we know we are in him; Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5-6). In our passage this week, John gives a definition of a true Christian; he says children of God do not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

What are your observations?


  • John 15:16-17
  • Philippians 2:5-8
  • 1 John 2:9-11
  • 1 John 3:10-18

Meaning - What does God’s word mean?

The apostle John, in the beginning of chapter 3, differentiates the children of God from the children of the devil. The children of the devil are characterized by hate, jealousy, lawlessness, and deceit; the children of God aren’t, they are characterized by love for Christ and each other. In fact, six times in 1 & 2 John, he refers directly to Jesus’ command that we love one another (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 5; plus the allusion in 1 John 2:7). In our text, John is in the second cycle of applying the three tests of authentic Christianity: the moral test of obedience to Jesus Christ (2:28 -3:10); the social test of love for one another. So he contrasts the world with the church. His message is, the mark of the world is hatred, but the mark of the church is love.

When God welcomes us into his family, he does not leave us with our old nature, marked by hatred and sin. He gives us his nature, and we are transformed into his likeness. The evidence of this is that we start to love like him—sacrificially, even to the point of death. Jesus, our big brother, is the ultimate example of this. He is God’s love, displayed in the action of self-sacrifice (3:16). So a helpful definition of biblical love is: a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. Jesus sacrificed Himself because He cared for us and He is committed to seek our highest good, namely, that ultimately we might share His glory. If you are in God’s family, he has made you an heir to everything. You can give up anything because you have been given everything already. This love is shown especially to those in our family. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our family, and love is what binds us.

Read: Titus 3:1-11

What are your observations from these verses?

Application - How must I change?

  • Is there a Truth to be believed?

A person whose life is marked by a pattern of selfishness, envy, jealousy, strife, and hatred gives evidence that he remains in spiritual death. While John’s words verses 14 & 15 are an evidential test of a person’s spiritual condition, they are also an exhortation to those that profess to believe in Christ. As believers, we have to battle the hatred that stems from our own selfishness. Often we are blind to our selfishness. How can we grow to see it, so that we can deal with it in a godly manner?

  • Is there an Attitude to be fostered?

Self-sacrifice is never convenient. We need discernment and wisdom to know how best to help a needy person. But we also need to be careful not to excuse our indifference by labeling the other person as lazy or irresponsible. Love unites people through practical deeds of self-sacrifice. If we gave to everyone in need, we would literally have nothing left. How do we discern when to give and when not to give?

  • Is there a Behavior to be changed?

At best, hatred becomes indifference or avoidance of another person, causing separation and distance in relationships. At worst, selfishness and hatred become murder (James 4:1-2). In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21, 22) Jesus said that anger is tantamount to murder in God’s sight, because all murder begins there. While we cringe when we hear of someone murdering someone else, we often tolerate the roots of this sin by excusing our anger as justifiable. We need to see our own selfish anger as hideous and yank it out by the roots! Practically, how would you counsel a Christian to deal with deep-seated bitterness, anger, or hatred?


We cannot love sacrificially without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit—which refers to the change from the inside out. When we are convicted of sin in our lives, we can confess it, and God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). It is our response to our sin that makes us different from the world. We cannot be content to keep sinning once we recognize our sin.

  • How do you hate like the world instead of love like Jesus? Is there jealousy in your heart?
  • Do you treat hate in your heart as seriously as you would murder?
  • Jesus humbled himself first in order to sacrifice for us. In what area do you need to be humbled so you can be like Jesus?
  • To what needs of others do you close your heart?
  • Do the people you interact with in the world know you are a Christian by your actions? Why or why not?
  • What is keeping you from loving people sacrificially?
  • What worldly definitions of love do you want more than sacrificial love?
  • How do you respond to the world’s hatred of Christians?


Closing Prayer: Thank you Father for making us your children. God help us as we try to see the application of this text in our lives to declare ourselves truly to be the children of God. May our love unify your church, reflect the radiance of our Saviour and bring you all the glory that you deserve. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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