Not with words

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18 (NIV)

I wanted to start doing a message based around a scripture each Sunday. I figured a good place to start would be with my favorite verse.

Words are not enough. We, as Christians, like to talk big. But those words mean nothing if they aren’t backed by actions. We are so quick to tell people we praying for them, but maybe a hug would have meant more. We are quick to tell people we love them, but slow to show it.

Too often our words become meaningless because we haven’t given them any meaning. Words work because they have meaning behind them. Think of trying to read a sentence in a language you don’t understand. It might be important, but since you can’t understand its underpinnings it is no better than scribbles.

Then perhaps I misstate this. We have not deprived the words of meaning but removed it. Our words have the trappings of the various meanings within our language, as well as the expectations contained therein. When we speak love to someone, but do not show it, our sweet sentiments spoil and become foul falsehoods. If we, for example, offer apologies, but then continue to commit the offense, “sorry”‘s don’t mean much anymore, do they? Indeed, they become objects of contempt. They are more mockery than truth.

Our love must be direct. It must be intentional. It must be alive. Love and life share the common trait of movement, action. If something no longer moves, we worry it may be dead. Perhaps we ought to worry that our love is dead — or at the least in critical condition.

When love is unshown, it cannot be known. Within this visibility alone does love find truth. We must let showing our love become as natural as breathing. And it need not be more complicated. Grand gestures of love are unnecessary. Small moments, small actions, reveal the love that God has birthed in our hearts. A smile, a touch, a hug, a moment of time spent with another all say more than any pair of lips can.

I know how hard it can be to do these things. Sometimes it feels awkward. I’m not very outgoing; it’s scary for me. But then we must remember that it is not about that. We love God and so we love man. We show love to both by action. Love does not rest with the lips alone.

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