“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1John 3:18 NIV)
I’ve been thinking about exercise a lot lately. I want to lose the “spare tire” around my middle and gain some muscle mass in my chest, arms and shoulders. I’ve been talking about exercise quite a bit lately, too. Every time I hang some laundry on one of the exercise machines in my home I say something like, “I really need to start working out again.”
So far, with all my thinking and talking (and now writing) about exercise, I haven’t lost one ounce of fat or gained an inch of muscle. What’s up with that?
Here’s the thing. We never benefit from exercise until we actually do exercise. This is as true spiritually as it is physically. It is especially true in the area of Christian love.
It’s very easy to think, talk, and write about loving our spouses, other believers, our neighbors, the needy, and the lost. But, are we really loving them or simply hanging platitudes on them to dry?
Jesus said that the world would recognize us as His disciples (followers) by our love for one another (Jn. 13:35). In other words, the distinguishing mark of the believer is love for God and love for others.
However, before Jesus told His disciples they must love one another, He demonstrated how they should love one another by washing their feet (Jn. 13:1-17). Then, He followed that up by demonstrating ultimate love by His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It was in exercising His love by putting it in action that Jesus was glorified and we are saved (John 13:31-32; 17:1).
It is in our exercising love and putting it in action that Jesus is glorified in us. Then, the world can then see Jesus through us. And, in seeing Jesus through us, they might believe in Him and be saved.
The world desperately needs to know the love of Christ. We are the bearers of that love. But, the world will only come to know the love of Jesus when they see His love demonstrated through our actions.
So, dear children of God, let’s not just think, talk, and write about love. Let’s exercise love in action and in truth. It will get us, and the world, in much better shape.
© Paul R Downing