I Want to Know What Love Is

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."—1 John 3:16–18 (NIV)

About a month after I was born, the band Foreigner released a song that said, “I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. I want to feel what love is; I know you can show me.” I don’t know why, but every time I read today’s passage, this song plays in my head! You see, hidden beneath layers of teased hair and that unmistakable 80s pop rock sound, this song expresses a real, universal need humanity faces every day . . . the need to know and feel what love is. 

Unfortunately, many people never do. Many waste so much time searching for love in all the wrong places. But John offers us good news . . . “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” The One who spoke the universe into existence laid down His life for us! The very hands that held the stars were nailed to a cross to bear my scars. 

Jesus is the answer to what love is (1 John 4:8), and He shows us what it looks like. It’s sacrificial, committed; it’s a beautiful servanthood towards one another. Likewise, as He shows us what love is, He commands us to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV). He expects us to love others consistently, selflessly, and sacrificially (John 15:13). Jesus gave the command and then He showed us how to do it!

For you, though, it likely won’t involve actually physically dying in place of someone. So, what does it involve? Laying down your life through whole-life generosity; laying down your life by bearing one another’s burdens, even when it’s not convenient for you. When you do this, the apostle Paul says you’ll be fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). This is how we can show and share with others what love is; this is how the people in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, local businesses, cities, and world will know, see, feel, and experience the life-changing love of Christ . . .  “with actions and in truth.”

There is no way around it . . . if Christ is in you, His burden for the broken will be your burden and His heart for the hurting will be your heart. And His love in you will manifest in more than just “words or speech.” 


DIG: Read 1 John 3–4, John 13–15, and Philippians 2:1–8.

DISCOVER: How do you define love? 

DO: With Christmas only a few weeks away, I encourage you to be intentional this week to SHOW someone what love is. Be sacrificial this Christmas. Consider inviting a friend, coworker, or neighbor who is having a rough time for Christmas dinner, or take a little money from the Christmas gift stash in order to pay for a struggling family to have an amazing dinner. Consider serving in a shelter or children’s hospital, bringing sweet treats to a nursing home, local police, fire station, or foster care center. There are many ways you can show and share the amazing love of Christ this season. Go out and LOVE your city and the hurting people in it!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.