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What is real love?

What is real love? There are so many different kinds of love, and there are so many different levels of love. Many of us love food. This is evident in my 200-pound frame. I talk about food so much during my sermons that church members bring me food on Sunday.

We love our favorite sports team. We all have different college teams that we love, but I think we can all agree on the Atlanta Braves. We love the Braves. 

Some people love their pets. Some of us love dogs, and some of us love cats. I think it’s common knowledge that all dogs go to heaven, and all cats go to hell. I’m only kidding. I love cats, especially the big ones, like Bengal tigers. 

There is the love for a boyfriend or a girlfriend. There is the love for a child or a grandchild. There is the love for a sibling or friend. There is the love between a husband and a wife. 

What is real love? The Apostle John, who was actually known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, teaches us about love in his first epistle. In 1 John 3:16, he writes, “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.” John says that real love is sacrificial love. Jesus Christ is the example of sacrificial love, and he laid his life down for us. I think we hear about God’s love for us and Jesus’ death on the cross so much that it has lost its meaning. God, our Heavenly Father, loves us so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). Real love is sacrificial love. 

And because Jesus Christ laid his life down for us, we ought to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters. John goes on to teach in verse 17 how we can show sacrificial love for one another. He shares in 1 John 3:17, “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?” If any of us has material possessions, and we do. We live in the wealthiest country in the world. If your combined household income is $50,000 or more, you are in the top 2% of the wealthiest people in the world. 

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need and does not help them, how can the love of God be in him? This is a very convicting Bible verse. If God’s love is in us, and God has blessed us with material possessions, then we need to help those in need. We should have pity on them.

In our world today, there are over 700 million people living in extreme poverty. Their families are living off of less than $2 a day. And we have the material possession or means to help them. Our church has recently partnered with Compassion International. For $38 a month, we can release a child from poverty in the name of Jesus. $38 a month provides food, clothing, medical needs, and education. Not only does Compassion meet the child’s physical needs, but the sponsorship meets his or her spiritual needs. Every Compassion Project is connected to a local church where the kids learn the Bible and have an opportunity to come to know Jesus personally.

The members of Graystone Church recently sponsored over 600 kids through Compassion International. Over 600 kids are being released from poverty in the name of Jesus. And I want to encourage you to sponsor a child through Compassion International.

John closes his teaching in 1 John 3:18 with, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Real love is not simply loving with our words, but it is taking action. It is not simply feeling sorry for someone in need, but it is doing something about it. Real love takes action. I want to encourage you today to go to and sponsor a child. Through your small gift of $38 a month, you can demonstrate real love and change a child’s life for all eternity. 

Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622.
Phone: (770) 466-3159
Twitter: @JohnnyHowes