Quietly Through 1st John (Week 11) :: The Outworking of Love (1 John 3:16-23)

The Outworking of Love

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (1 John 3:16-23)

Ideas to Consider

  • How do we know what love is? (v 16)
  • How should we not love? (v 18)
  • How do we know we are walking in truth? (vv 19-20)


(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)

Last week we learned that love is imperative in the believer’s life. A true follower of Christ will love her brothers and sisters. This love is the proof that the Spirit is abiding in her and she in the Spirit. It is not something that she is able to do on her own, but something that flows out of her life as she submits to the Father’s will.

This week we are shown what true love looks like. True love happens when we lay down our own lives for the benefit of another. How do we know this? Because it is exactly what Christ did for His Church (v 16).

True love happens when we lay down our own lives for the benefit of another. #quietlythrough #1stJohn Click To Tweet

Love is more than talk. Loving someone is more than saying “I love you” or “I’ll pray for you” or “trust God, He’ll provide”. Love does. Love feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and listens to the hurting. Love shows up and gets dirty when needed. Love doesn’t take the comfortable path, it takes the path of self-sacrifice — just like Jesus.

Love doesn't take the comfortable path, it takes the path of self-sacrifice -- just like Jesus. #quietlythrough #1stJohn Click To Tweet

I bet you haven’t always loved the way Jesus has loves you. I know I haven’t. And if you are feeling a bit condemned right now, take a deep breath. You and I are not the only ones. John knew his audience would be a little rattled by his words, too. That’s why he writes verses 19-20. The International Children’s Bible reads this way:

This is the way we know that we belong to the way of truth. When our hearts make us feel guilty, we can still have peace before God. God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:19-20)

If you are not feeling at ease about your love for others, the feeling is proof of the Holy Spirit convicting and correcting you. It’s one way that you know you belong to the truth. And what do we do with this uneasy feeling? Ignore it? No! Of course not! We respond to it. We repent and trust the we are forgiven and the Lord will cleanse us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

And whether we feel conviction or confidence about how we love, we can ask for the ability to love more. And the Lord will grant us our request because this request is in line with His command to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and to love one another (v 23).  So let’s make this request now.


Lord in heaven, thank you for your Son. Thank you for sending Him to save us from our sin and to show us how to love. We pray that as your Spirit abides in us and we in Him, that the outworking of real Christ-like love would be done in our lives. Teach us how to do more than say we love, but to actually love sacrificially. In the name of your Son we pray. Amen.


Here are a few things to think about this week. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. How does Christ’s example inspire you to love sacrificially?
  2. How do you love? In word and tongue? Or in deed and truth? Give specific examples.
  3. Are you feeling conviction or confidence about the way you love others? What is your next step?


Here are a few study ideas to do between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one or two a day in order to keep you thinking about the passage all week long.

  • Start or continue a double entry journal.
  • Hand write the passage.
  • Did this passage make you think of other passages in the Bible? Share those passages with the rest of us in the comments.
  • Read Matthew 25:31-46. How are we to love one another?
  • Read James 2:14-17, 26. Read it again and replace the word work with love. How does this help you understand the passage?
  • Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, write a post and share it in the next #QuietlyThroughThursday LINK UP.
  • Read 1 John 1-5. Yes, ma’am, the whole thing.

How do we know what love is? #quietlythrough #1stJohn Click To Tweet

What to go back and look at the previous weeks of this study? Click the image below.


  1. Great thoughts, Kelli! When this is all complete it’s going to be a neat package! Verses 20-21 are a great way to be led by the Spirit when you are praying about how to respond to someone. Sometimes we can’t find the black and white answer in Scripture so we are led by the Spirit. We pray and ask God and do the one we are feeling a peace in our heart about it (or don’t do it if we aren’t feeling a peace about it). That’s some insight about those verses my parents taught me when I was a teenager and it’s proven to be a practical help.

  2. Thank you for these thought-provoking words today! This passage fits in so well with things the Lord is teaching me about how to let go of my own way of loving, and to look for His full-hearted and self-less love. I am so glad that God’s Word always has something fresh to speak to us! Blessings to you!

  3. Living out this kind of love has proven to be difficult for the longest time. I won’t go into that here.
    But, I’ve found that “indifference” has become a companion in certain things.

      1. It’s SO WILD that you would mention lack of compassion! Tues. evening our worship team did a songwriting exercise. Vocalist (I’m one of those) and musicians were paired and challenged to write a song. He and I started out on what the Lord has been showing us lately. Our 1st John verses for this week popped into my head and I shared the way that God was convicting me in it and how I’ve asked Him for help.
        The guy said, “sometimes it looks like a lack of compassion.” And that’s where we started our song! We’ve yet to finish it because it looks more like bullet points that need to be rearranged, but it was so inspiring!

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