1 John 3:18 ESV
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth”
I have been praying over this verse since I first began working on my sermon series on 1 John that is leading us into Lent.
While the author is talking to adults who are but children in their faith-I love the honesty to which children answer questions. I’m not sure about you, but I used to love the show “Kid’s Say the Darndest Things”.
I recently read examples of children answering their teachers-in most cases VERY literally. One child, when her teacher asked her how she would spell crocodile, spelled it K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L. The teacher was confused and told her that the spelling was wrong to which the young girl quickly responded-well maybe it is wrong, but after all you did ask me HOW I WOULD SPELL IT.
Our words, texts, and posts are often open for interpretation. We hear or read them and sometimes begin to wonder-what did they mean by that? What did they REALLY mean?
Also, it can be easy for us to pretend we truly love in word or talk.
It doesn’t take very much effort for you and me to SAY we love our neighbors.
It doesn’t take very much effort for you and me to SAY we believe in a Matthew 25 mission.
It doesn’t take very much effort for you and me to say we will pray for someone but choose not to or even just forget.
It is something much different entirely to BE and DO love; to and for others. Our scripture reminds us not to love in word or talk but to love through the things we do and based on the truths from Scripture.
Loving people is hard sometimes. I can’t imagine the challenge it was for Jesus to love the disciples with all their faults and baggage. He knew they doubted him but loved them anyways. He knew they would betray him but loved them anyways. He knew they would desert him but he loved them anyways. He didn’t just say he loved them-he showed them he loved them in deed and truth.
Are you wondering who you are supposed to love? I’ll make it easy for you and save you a long and expensive seminary education.
It’s everyone. Everyone is our neighbor: the good, the bad, the ugly, the disagreeable, the agreeable, the broken, the hurting, the least of these, the most of these…Jesus commands us to love everyone without clause.
Jesus did many amazing miracles while here on earth but also demonstrated so many human traits we must all strive for-like loving each other.
Jesus did it and so can we, but it doesn’t mean it will always be easy and not take effort.
Sometimes it might just mean being intentional about how we react or perceive. Imagine washing the feet of “friends” who are about to do the unthinkable. Imagine showing up in the upper room filled with “friends” who deserted you, doubted you, and denied you.
We are all as capable of great love as much as we are capable of anger and resentment.
Let us choose to love not just in word and talk but always in our deed and truth.
May it be so,
Rev. Lou Ward.
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