Thursday, November 09, 2006

Visible Love

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18).
"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" (Prov 20:66).

It is true that many claim to be "loving". Many may love with "words". But the apostle tells us NOT to love merely with the right sounding words. "With actions and in truth" is how we are to love.

True love is visible. In fact Jesus said that the love that we have for one another will be expressed outwardly as highly visible declarations. All men will know that we are his disciples when they SEE our love for one another. (See John 13:35)

"Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it" (2 Cor. 8:24).

When God calls us to be "joined and knit together" (Eph. 4) and "members of one another" (Rom. 12:5), and when he calls us to consider others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2), these callings will find themselves expressed visibly among the people of God. The people of God will be a "light" and a "city" set on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14)!

Why is this important???? Because it is SO easy to "agree" with something in our heads, but still not experience it. We may think that we love in actions and in truth, but in reality we are loving only with words. We are loving only with our "doctrinal statement" or "beliefs" or "philosophy".

Let me give you an example. There's a movie that was made about a teacher of very poor, inner-city high school students. The students didn't care about anything. But the teacher cared a lot. The teacher visited the students at home and even dragged them to class if he had to. He got involved in their real lives and showed real care outside the classroom. Well, the teacher was a big success and all the students turned around and became good students and got good grades and all of that. The point is this and it's important: When people watch this movie, they often cry; they admire the teacher in the movie; they think he is a great guy; they really find themselves "caring" about the students in the film. People who watch the film find themselves believing that it is a "good cause" to help students like the teacher did. Again, the people watching even cry. BUT.... they never have in the past nor will they in the future raise a single finger to ever DO SOMETHING about helping poor, inner-city students themselves. They find themselves agreeing emotionally with the "cause", but they do not love in "actions and in truth". Understand?

Now, I'm not trying to get you to get involved with inner-city students unless God specifically wants you to do that. But I am trying to get you to not merely "agree" with "loving one another" and "laying down our lives for one another" but never actually DOING IT. Love NOT in words or in tongue, but in action and in truth! :-)

Don't merely LISTEN to the word--you'll deceive yourself. Rather, DO WHAT IT SAYS!

The love we have is a love that is to be SHOWN. It must be visible: "No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is WELL KNOWN for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds" (1 Tim 5:9-10).

"In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden" (1 Tim 5:25).