Summary: This is about God’s true love for us.
“Love” is a word that is thrown around more than a football at the Super Bowl. Everyone talks about love. I love this. I love that. I love your hair. I love that shirt. I love this team or that team. I love summer. I love Christmas. “I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family.” Love, love, love. Two characters on a TV show mumble something about loving each other as they slide between the sheets. We say we love our favorite sports team, then we wind up questioning the legitimacy of the coach’s birth when he makes a bad decision. We hear pop singers sing about love. Love is everywhere.
As a culture, we talk an awful lot about love. We love lots of things, from pizza to Budweiser, from warm spring days to our friends new hair do, from a car to that new girl in English class. We have come to confuse love with infatuation and lust. The main difference is that infatuation and lust are selfish in motive. When we are dealing with those ideas, we are looking out for our own selfish interests. We only “love” the object of our affection so long as it pleases us. We seek our own pleasure over the interests of someone else.
Our culture is constantly engaged in this. It goes beyond physical motives. We sometimes think that if we can get this person as a friend they will do something for us. Maybe the person is influential or skilled in an area where we need help.
The measure of how much we love someone is only as true as our actions that back up our words. A parent, who constantly tells a child they are loved, but yet persists in neglecting the child, doesn’t really love that child. On the other hand a husband and wife that have been married for years may not always verbalize their love for each, but yet you can tell that they love each other because of their actions toward each other. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t express our love for others verbally, but it cannot become a substitute for the real thing.
Love is only love insofar as we have the actions to back up our words.
Turn with me to 1 John chapter 3.
Read 1 John 3:18-24.
We are confronted with four truths here: True love is more than hot air, God knows our motives, God rewards those who are obedient, and the Holy Spirit proves we are God’s children.
True Love is More than Hot Air
It is helpful at this point to remember that John was dealing with a group of people who believed that the body and spirit were disconnected. They thought they were okay because they said that they were Christian, but their actions didn’t back up their words. This is why John says, in verse 18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
John is saying that love is more than hot air. We could drag out a number of cliches at this point. We could say, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Or, we could say, “Talk is cheap, it’s time for action.” Or, we could say, “Actions speak louder than words.” All of these apply to this situation. Cliches aren’t enough.
James 2:15 and 16 says, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”
It does no good if we say to someone in need, “Go in peace. May the Lord bless you.” I would even say that it is not enough to pray for the situation, if there is something that we can do to remedy the situation.
In the parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus condemned those who did nothing to help the situation. Our love must be made known through our actions. It doesn’t matter what we say. If we can make the situation better, we must do so. That is the meaning of loving in deed or actions.
John also says that our love must be in truth. Our actions must be motivated by Christian love. Our love must be true in our actions. It’s not enough to do something out of compulsion or peer pressure.
If we do something because we feel guilty about the situation, it means that it is not a matter of love. Back in the 1980s there were all of these celebrity causes. There was Farm Aid, Live Aid, Comic Relief, We Are The World, Hands Across America and other things. I am not convinced that all of these events were motivated by genuine love. They really did very little to ease the suffering of anyone. Mainly it was an opportunity for various actors, rock stars, comedians and other high profile people to say, “Hey, we’re trying to do something.” Perhaps the motivation was guilt release for excess wealth. Perhaps it was so they could put a positive spin on their images. Genuine love and concern, no doubt, motivated some.