“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I Jn 3:16
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” 1 Jn 3:18-20
God sees through our heart, which on occasions is given to waver. On our part, words and intentions are always to be accompanied by actions, and embodying what we say and mean, in real life (truth=aletheia in Greek, synonymous with reality)
It may seem that vs 21-22 indicate a measure of legalism in keeping all the commandments in order to be granted the right to ask and receive from God, but v23 lays down the commandment expected of us:
“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 Jn 3:23
So what is love? It’s not just about feelings, or words, but needs us to get down and dirty, living our love out by actions and above all, believing we were the recipients of a love far greater and more forgiving and far-reaching than we could ever comprehend.