Day 29: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
I used this verse at the top of my support letter for my recent mission trip to Costa Rica. We had been asked by our leaders to find a verse that we felt embodied our hopes and desires for the trip. I found several verses but this was the one that I felt fit best.
So what did it mean to me? I believe it is in line with these sayings: “actions speak louder than words,” or “put your money where your mouth is.” That if I want to truly show others I care about them, then I better let my actions match my words.
I think this also really ties in to an earlier post about another life verse from James 2:15-17, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” My main takeaway from this is to not simply to offer people Christian platitudes when what they also need is some practical, hands-on help.
Some of my initial thoughts on 1 John 3:18 were: “Then how does one love in action and in truth? What does that look like practically speaking for my life? And what specifically does it mean to “love in truth?” Because I can picture what putting love into action might look like for me but loving truthfully becomes a little harder to picture.
But along these lines, I am reminded of another favorite verse, John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.“ This was also the verse behind a blog post my pastor wrote back on February 14, 2012 entitled “Love Ingredients: Truth, Grace, Proportion.“ His ideas on what true love looks like have shaped my own thoughts on this topic ever since I read this post.
Part of what he said was this:
“Grace in proper proportion provides space and time for transformation, and a place of safety for confession. Too much grace provides space, not for transformation, but for hiding.
Too much truth seems to presume that the time is always now, and the messenger is always us.
Too much grace seems to presume that the time is never now, and the messenger is always someone else …
This truth and grace in proportion thing is, I believe, not only an important conversation; it’s the very reason I need Jesus. After all, He’s the one who gets this right, and it will be by living in intimacy with that I’ll learn how to do it too.”
So how do I learn to love well? By first realizing that ultimately Love is not an abstract idea but a person. And next by seeking a relationship with Jesus that is real and intimate. Lord, may I learn to do both in my life.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)