“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure… No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God…
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death… By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:2-3,6,9,14,16-18
When we are brought into a love relationship with Christ, we are crucified with Him so His resurrection life pulses through us. Loving Him, there are certain things we give up out of identity and necessity as His children. Just as Jesus laid down His life for us, we are called to lay down all remnants of the old self to live a life of love in Him. (Romans 6:5-11; Galatians 2:20)
We lay down sinful ways, long-standing self-centered habits that erode fellowship with God and wreak havoc in relationships with others. We are new creatures and His Spirit resides in us in limitless power. He doesn’t coexist well with our pet sins and proclivities. What does John’s test reveal? If we continue in ongoing sin, without conviction or desire to put it away forever, do we really love God? (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We lay down our life for our friends, including preferences, time, and insistence on being right. If we genuinely love, we invest in relationships to bless, console, share deepest selves, and upbuild, not to manipulate, use for our advantage, or win. We prove love when we rejoice with their joys, and hurt when they hurt. When we willingly set aside our interests and agendas for theirs, and generously forgive, releasing all grievances. What parts of my life am I selfishly gripping? (Romans 12:9-19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Philippians 2:3-8)
We lay down our goods for others’ needs. Closed hearts breed stinginess, greed, and judgment, while generous ones seek ways to supply in Jesus’s name. Are my fists clenched, or open?
“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
and make me love you as I ought to love.
Teach me to love [as all] your angels love,
one holy passion filling all my frame:
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove;
my heart an altar, and your love the flame.” ~George Croly (1854)
Loving Lord, may I wholly lay down my all for You who’ve given Your all for me. Identify everything errant to which I cling, and by Your grace and power, open my hands and heart to release every bit, and so fill me to overflow with Your love.