Let Us Not Love In Word, But In Deed
A little girl bounced into her father's home office and plopped onto his lap.
"Daddy," she said, "can you come and read to me?"
"Of course I will, darling. Just give me a few minutes to wrap up some emails."
"Do you promise?"
"I love you, of course I will come. I will be out in a few minutes."
An hour later, the sound of dad talking on the phone confirmed to his daughter there would be no reading together that night.
This sad story illustrates the difference between saying you love someone and truly loving them. We have all seen or heard similar, sad scenarios, where a father or wife or friend says one thing ("I love you"), but does not follow those words with concrete acts of love. The actions speak louder than the words, we say.
Words are hallow apart from action. Imagine two people winding up to throw something at you; one has a brick made of Styrofoam, and the other person has... a real brick. Who are you going to take more seriously? "I love you" without action that backs it up is light and hallow like Styrofoam. "I love you" displayed in action is like a heavy brick you can--no you must--, take seriously.
For words to be weighty, they can't just remain words. Anyone can talk a big game about their ability to play basketball, or fish or paint. Anyone can say they like to run, or to read. I can claim I cherish my wife and my kids, or that I love God and follow Jesus. But all of that talk is easy. My actions tells the hard truth whether my words agree or not. This is nowhere more clear and serious than when we say we love someone. Maybe we should treat the word "love" like a brick and only throw it with care.
A Christian is no Styrofoam-babbler, our claims of love should be concrete. That is why John says "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." (1 Jn. 3:18). Christians ought to love others, not just talk about loving them. It is easy to say I love the members in my church, or the loved ones in my family. But when they have a need or crisis in life, do I close my heart to them? Or do I look out for their best interest and sacrifice my own wants and needs in order to care for them, in order to love them? Am I considerate of how they are doing, even when I have my own worries and concerns? Only then will "I love you" be words with weight.
We Christians are obligated to love others because Jesus himself has loved us, not just in words and talk, but in concrete action. He showed us he loved us by going to death in our place, suffering the physical, emotional, and spiritual punishment we deserved as rebellious enemies. He didn't just say "I love you." He showed it. He threw it at us like a brick. And it is that same weighty brick we are to pass on to others.
"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:18