Love is not as easy or pleasant as it sounds. It is effortless to say “I love you” but so hard to demonstrate in real life. The Bible calls Christians to love “not with words or speech but with actions and truth” (1Jn.3:18). It is not that the words are wrong, but they are certainly not enough to qualify as biblical love. And the “actions” aren’t just any benevolent actions that please the giver, they are to be specifically aimed at the well-being and benefit of the recipient. They are actions and truths that build up, encourage, correct, challenge, and meet the need of the recipient. Such actions can be difficult, involve sacrifice and are sometimes downright painful. Consider Christ’s ultimate demonstration of love. John utilizes its example as the definition of biblical love when he writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1Jn.3:16a). But John doesn’t leave it there, he drives home the call for us to do the same: “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1Jn.3:16b). While the world turns love into an exercise in self-gratification and sentimentality, may we as God’s people continue to love as Christ did – doing the hard work of giving ourselves for the benefit of others. That is biblical love.