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
I’ve seen many posters on social media that say to love yourself. (That’s good. You must love yourself to love others.) And I’ve seen posters that say to let go of people who hurt you. (Of course. You shouldn’t allow yourself to be hurt.) Lately, I’ve seen more that say to get rid of people who don’t make you happy. (Wait, what? Am I supposed to evaluate all my friendships and keep only the feel-good ones? I’ve talked some friends through suicidal times. Should I give them the boot? Some of my friends are poor. Some lost their houses. Some are in poor health and can’t find viable jobs. Should I reject them because they don’t make me happy?)
Love is an action. We must reach out to others. If you have something good, don’t just tell people about it; share it with them. (Yes, this includes material possessions!) If you see people lovingly, and you look at a poor person without a home or healthcare, you won’t think “What a loser;” you’ll think “How can I help?”
But does the Bible really mean “lay down your life”? Most people don’t have to do that literally, (though some have–just this week a firefighter gave up his life to save houses in California). I think the answer varies with each person according to their wealth—not only physical wealth, but spiritual and emotional wealth. I think giving my life means giving time to listen to people’s problems, and being open to help in little ways if I can. It means being a friend. (I don’t help to the point that I burn out, because that helps no one.) It means tithing. It means helping at church. It means voting to help those who are in need. I always ask myself, “Can I give more? Can I do more?”
If you really have God’s love, you won’t be able to do anything else.