Focus – Love: Cheap Word, Expensive Act

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by Lieutenant Lisa Van Cleef –

Love is one of those wonderful feelings that can evoke any number of psychological, physical and emotional responses. There are few other emotions that call forth such strong reactions from us. I saw a movie recently in which the main plot was a love story that developed while a woman tried to find her identity following divorce. It’s the subplot, however, that really struck a nerve in me.

Movies very rarely drive me to tears (although my husband insists otherwise). This movie not only evoked waterworks, it also made me keenly aware of something happening everywhere we look. Love is being cheapened.

In the midst of this divorce, the father called continually to tell his young daughter how much he loved her and wanted to be with her. So, when he came to visit, she was ecstatic, anticipating the chance to go home and spend some time with her daddy. It didn’t happen. He pushed her away from the car, unloaded her suitcase and drove off while she stood in the street, sobbing, “You said you loved me!”

This is what struck me: Jesus never is recorded as saying, “I love you.” There are references to his love for the disciples, for the multitudes, for Jerusalem, for children, for his friends, for us. But there is not a verse you that says something like, “Jesus said, ‘I love you.'”

The reason, I believe, is that he didn’t need to use those three seemingly magic words we value so much. His actions and his life spoke louder than any cheapened phrase can.

In fact, in Ephesians 3:17, Paul prays that we will be able to understand this love of Jesus: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, along with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…”

Without ever saying it outright, Jesus proved his love for us. The Bible says there is no greater love than someone’s laying down his or her life for another. Ultimately, that is what Jesus did. On the way to the cross, however, his earthly ministry is replete with examples of his love for the ill, the disadvantaged, the defiled, those without any hope.

Jesus didn’t walk up to these needy people and say, “I love you,” then turn and walk away. He showed his love by meeting their needs.

Too often we are caught up in the “I love you” phrase. We seek those three words, or we say those three words without checking if the actions match. Love is being cheapened. Love is depreciated whenever the word is used without the action.

For any of you who fear emotional intimacy and think I am giving you a way out of saying, “I love you,” that’s not quite the point. The point is this: Our words and our actions must meet each other. We cheapen love whenever they do not.

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