Love Is Seen in Actions
By Major Anne Pickup
“This is the message you heard from the beginning, we should love one another.” I John 3:11
As a teenager in the ’60s I went to various churches that practiced the first evidences of “contemporary” worship. We often sang a song with a refrain that said, “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Reading the book of I John we see the theological truth of that song. John’s message is that God loves us, and showed it by sending Jesus. Our positive response to God is seen when we love those around us.
“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another.” (v. 14)
The signal to the world that we are Christians is love. We say we love people, but is that what others see in us? Too often our love is an emotion or an attitude held internally, while the Bible clearly demonstrates love is very active and very visible. John MacArthur says, “Love is the surest test of divine life.”
The Apostle John gives a three-point description of love in this third chapter.
I. Love is Like Jesus (v. 6)
Jesus poured out His love to us so completely that He lost His life in the process. He gave of Himself until it cost His all. Jesus modeled complete, selfless love. Often our love is shallow and costs very little personally. We give, not until it hurts, but up until it hurts. In Jesus, we see love is a pouring out of ourselves.
II. Love is Helpful (v. 17)
If love is a sacrificial giving of oneself, then the opposite of love is indifference. Those who see need and apathetically pass by cannot call themselves Christian. Many people feel if they give financial support to The Salvation Army and similar organizations they have met this challenge of Scripture. John is speaking about more than money here, because not every need is met monetarily. What is asked for is involvement, because love involves personal time and energy. Chances are God won’t ask us to show love by dying for someone, but it is likely we will be asked to surrender possessions, comfort, and things valuable to us for someone in need.
III. Love is Action Oriented (v. 18)
John summarizes love with one word – action. Love is empty and meaningless if only spoken. Love really makes sense when supported by actions. How often have we heard or said, “Don’t tell me you love me, show me!”
Jesus told a parable about a man robbed, beaten and left for dead on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Two men, who would have called themselves Christians, saw the need and passed by. A third man, a Samaritan, saw the need and acted. He became personally involved and put practical actions to his attitude of loving concern and financial assistance. This story was told to define who was truly a Christian. Jesus ended the telling by saying, “Go and do likewise.”
Love has a language, all its own making,
Voiced in its giving, love gives its best;
Instant and constant with joy while awaking,
Tells its own story – love stands the test.
– Joseph Buck