Over the past week or so, I have read through 1, 2, and 3rd John. I discovered a consistent theme; love. Love is often a hard characteristic to practice daily. We as humans love ourselves above anyone else, yet the Bible specifically commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) and to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). My pastor did a sermon yesterday briefly talking about this verse. Click here to listen.
So, anyways, loving people who we don’t think deserve it can be hard. But ask yourself this; do YOU deserve to be loved? No, you don’t. It may sound depressing, but the truth is that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. Jesus is that great Savior and if you repent of your sins, turn to God, and begin to live a holy life before Him, He will see you as His perfect child.
I kind of went off on a tangent….so where was I. That’s right, I’ve been reading 1, 2, and 3rd John. 1 John 3:16-19 reads, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. Ad we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Here’s my Dad’s sermon on abiding in Jesus. “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.”
Wait, what? Love isn’t word or tongue but in works? The world today loves to say, “I love you”. That simple phrase is taken as many things and is used for many things. We say “I love my parents”, but we also say, “I love chocolate”. If someone of the opposite gender were to come up to you right now and say “I love you, you mean a lot to me, and you hold a special place in my heart”, you would get butterflies in your stomach and you would take very seriously. But that love means nothing without deed and honesty. And you don’t know if a person is being truthful until they prove it with their actions. It’s easy to say “I love you”, but do you really mean it?
The point is, the world’s definition of love is gushy, mushy words that tug at your heart strings. Now, I’m not saying that there is a problem with saying “I love you”, but its the actions that count the most. Take Jesus Christ for example. He didn’t say “I love you” and all of a sudden the sin of world was taken away. No, He literally DIED for our sins. He SUFFERED and BLED all out of His GREAT love for you and the world. Jesus on the cross is the definition of love. Jesus is the perfect example of the outworking of love.
Verse 17 in this section of 1 John says, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” Especially we as Americans, have a lot of material wealth. But do we give of our material wealth in love to others? Probably not as much as we should. When we see a friend in need, help them and love them.
I challenge you (and me) to practice loving not in words, but also in good works. Do good works get you into Heaven? Absolutely not! Faith in Jesus Christ and evidence of that faith does that, but Christians are still to do good works for the ultimate glory of God. So, “love your neighbor as yourself” and don’t “love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”. Show someone God’s love by acting not speaking, just like Jesus did.