For several weeks now, my attention has been brought back to 1st John as I try and learn more about God’s yearning for us to “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10) One of the reasons for me returning back to 1st John is due to its emphasis on love and how it is inextricably linked to Jesus and to those who confess Him as Lord. 1st John 3:23 says, “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.” Here is some interesting information: depending on your translation, the word love is mentioned at least 51 times in this short epistle and some 34 times just from 1st John 4:7 thru 5:3 alone.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1st John 3:18
Our Lord’s call for His church to rise up and serve is a challenging one for the simple reason that it demands that we step outside of our comfort zones and touch the lives of those around us. It has been said, “If you are going to talk the talk, then you need to walk the walk.” Times haven’t changed over the years. Talk is cheap now as it was then. As one person rightly asked, “If we don’t show our love, if it dwells only in our words, then what sort of love is that?” The exhortation to “not love in word or tongue” is not to suggest that saying you love someone is not needed; but rather, there is more to agape love then mere words. Godly love is qualified if you will, by two very distinct things. First, it is by deed; that is, an act or thing done. Consider this question, “How do you know God loves you?” I suspect John 3:16 popped up in your head and rightly so. God didn’t merely say He loved mankind; but rather, revealed it through action. When time is taken to serve someone, it places a value on that person. It says to them, “You are worth my time and resources.” Second, love has parameters which are determined by truth; that is, in reality. As one person put it, “not in empty air but amid tangible realities.” That means, the deed is driven by sincere love for the person, not by mere obligation. Paul would say it this way, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” (Romans 12:9)
Love without genuine action is like faith without works, dead. The ETRV translation words it simplistically: “My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No! Our love must be true love. We should show our love by the things we do.” (1st John 3:18) Lord, strengthen us to be doers to the glory of Your name.