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This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another… We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 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? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:11, 16-18 NLT

If I love God, how do I express that love to Him? The Psalmist asked the same question.

“What can I offer the Lord for all He has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.” Psalm 116:12-13

Whatever I offer Him is something I received from Him in the first place. I lift to Him the cup of salvation—is it my cup? No, it is His, He did it all, I just received it, and offer it back and praise His name. And this dynamic is true of all our offering, we give out of the abundance we have been given.

This is why loving our brothers and sisters in tangible ways, laying down our lives for them, supporting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, upholding the weak, returning not evil, blessing and not cursing, and being kind to all—in a word, love, is the hallmark of the Christian. When we love we are actively returning to God of the love we first received.

“We love each other because he loved us first” 1 John 4:19 NLT

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 NLT

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

Love alone puts the difference between the children of God and the children of the devil… Those who have charity are born of God: those who do not have it, are not born of God. A mighty token, a mighty distinction! …This is the pearl of price, charity, without which whatever you may have profits you nothing: which, if alone you have, it suffices you.

St. Augustine of Hippo. Homily V on 1 John 3.

The man who knows the delight of the love of God – when the soul, warmed by grace, loves both God and her brother – knows in part that “the kingdom of God is within us.” Blessed is the soul that loves her brother, for our brother is our life.

St. Silouan. Wisdom from Mt. Athos, On Love.