We’ve all heard the verse James 2:17, “Faith without works is dead.” It’s a verse we hear from the time we are children. We are not saved by our works, but works flow out of our salvation. A person who is given a second chance at life sees things differently and lives differently. A person whose life is rescued by another lives in gratitude to that person. Because they are thankful, they act differently. So we too act differently when we are saved. James understood this and wrote that verse in his letter. John said it a little bit differently though.
In I John 3:16-18, John had some strong words as well for us. He wrote in verse 16, “This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others. (GNT)” Giving our lives for others is one of the works James wrote about, John took it a step further and described it as an act of love. This can mean that you would give your life in the place of someone else’s, but that doesn’t happen often. Instead, the Message writes it like this, “We ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.”
Giving ourselves sacrificially for others is something we can do often and repeatedly. Giving our life is a one time thing. As Christians, we should have a mindset that is looking out for others. I Corinthians 13:5 (depending on the translation) says, “Love does not seek its own,” “Love is not selfish,” and “Love cares more for others than for self.” True, Christian love gives itself for others. John believed that so much that in verse 17 he wrote, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT)” Living sacrificially for others is a sign of God’s love in us.
He didn’t say give everything to that person, he said we have to show them compassion and help them. If someone sees a fellow believer in need and turns away, John questioned whether they had God’s love in them. Living sacrificially for others means you offer your resources, your skills and / or your time to those who need it most. God’s love in us recognizes that we have things to do for ourselves, but puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It acts in their best interest. Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you! (NLT)”
John finished his thought about living sacrificially in verse 18 like this, “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it MUST be true love, which shows itself in action.” We can’t just sit around and talk about God’s love, we must do something to show it. We don’t have a choice according to this verse. Not only is faith without works dead, God’s love in us without action is dead. It’s time we quit talking about our faith and started living out our faith. It’s time we quit talking about God’s love and started showing God’s love. Look around you today and see which believers needs you to live sacrificially for them.