"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." NIV translation
We hear the word "love" thrown around so much today that we have actually lost the understanding of what it means. This verse gives us the real definition and it does not even resemble the concept that is in the world today. Quite simply, to love someone is to be willing to give up your life so that they may live. That, my friends, is what Jesus demonstrated on the cross for all of us.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" NIV translation
This is not a popular part of God's Word in our society but Jesus did not have a fancy home, car, or anything else while He was here on earth. We can agree that Jesus is our example so we have to ask ourselves why we are so caught up in material things.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." NIV translation
The word "love" is thrown around too much today and John is telling us here that it is an action word.
Many will say they love someone or something but then their actions do not bear witness to that professed love.
"This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." NIV translation
Love conquers fear and, if we love, then we know we are God's children and we "belong to the truth" as Jesus is the Truth. Without fear, we have peace with God even when our hearts remember our past sins. God knows His children and His love is greater than all.
"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." NIV translation
If we are God's children we can be confident when we ask Him for His blessings. He is better than any father we could imagine here on earth and so He wants to give good things to His children. We listen to Him and obey because we want to please Him just as earthly children want to obey a father that they love and respect.