“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Remember that saying, “easier said than done”? To me this verse presents us with a challenge: quit talking about loving people and actually do it. Although not the first place we find the command to love, in Mark 12 Jesus responds to the question, “which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28), with, the most important commandment is to firstly love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then secondly to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:28-31) So here we are with a commandment to love and challenged to love actively.
First Love God
Heart, soul, mind, and strength. These four words describe how we are supposed to love God. Really these words encompass all our being. The heart is usually associated with emotions; the soul is often related to spirituality, the mind can equate to rationale, and lastly strength is physically. I find that sometimes it is much easier to section these parts of myself and give them to God at different times. With my words I can say that I am loving God with all of who I am, easily, but when it comes to putting action behind what I say the challenge ensues.
Here is what I have found for myself as I continue to actively love God. Loving God requires me to trust Him. I need to trust that He will always fulfill His promises, that He will not leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6), that He will guide me (Psalm 23:1-3), and that He is walking before me and with me (Deuteronomy 31:8), among other promises. Loving God also requires me to actively surrender my life to Him. I say actively because sometimes it’s easy to try and take back all the “control”, but when I try to take it back, it reveals that I lack trust in God. Surrendering shows that I value God’s will for my life and that I want to put Him first before myself. Thirdly, loving God requires me to do everything in His name. Colossians 3:17 Paul writes in his letter that everything that we do should be in the name of Jesus, and it wasn’t until recently that I had an epiphany about this statement. At first I thought this as a private declaration, that whatever I do I should, in my heart, know that I am doing it for Jesus: yet (here’s my epiphany) I think that we should also be able to declare publicly whatever we are doing in the name of Jesus. Jesus should want His name attached to whatever I am doing; I need to be a great witness to the world in His name.
Second Love Myself
I believe that it is important to point out that in Mark 12 Jesus says that we should love others as ourselves. There have been many times where I was taught that others were above myself, but there are a few problems with that. For so long it became taboo to profess self-love, which is why there is such a strong push now (especially in the world of women) to love who you are. We have singers, like Meghan Trainer, who sing about how we need to love who we are, we have many other celebrities and just the average woman fighting to promote this idea that we all matter and that we should love who we are not strive to be anyone else.
My Creator formed me with perfection and precision. (Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 139:14) He created me with purpose and love, therefore when I look at myself I should see that. I should care for myself, not because I’m selfish or self-centred, but because if I cannot care and love myself, how am I expected to love others? In saying that, I need to make the effort to not talk with both sides of my mouth. The words that come out of my mouth should be reflected in my actions. So if I say that I love who I am, my actions should reflect that, otherwise how true are the words I say?
Third Love Others
We are called to love one another. This is pretty tough, I mean it is one thing to love a God who is perfect and who loves us more than we can imagine, it is a whole other thing to have to love others who may not have our best interest in mind. What makes it easier is when we break down the boxes that we put people in, strip everything away and are left with “who” they are – people. It really hurts to see how there are Christians out there who are ready to condemn people because of “what” they are, and not ready to love. Nonetheless, I realize that it is difficult to show love to everyone, but if I am bent on receiving what I am giving, then what is the difference between me and someone who does not follow God? (Luke 6:32-36) I am supposed to love others regardless of my feelings toward them. Love is a choice, not a feeling. This is also why we should not rely on others to replenish our “love tanks”.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
Now here is where the love comes full circle. If we profess to know God and to love God, then we have to love others. In 1 John we see why these two go hand-in-hand. God is love, therefore if we say we love but do not show it we really do not know love.
So here we go: we love ourselves because of God, we love others because we love ourselves, and we love God because of who He is and in turn we love others (He is love after all.) Now it is time that we stop talking about love and how we will love God, ourselves, and others, and actually do it. We can take what James writes in James 2:14-17 and apply it; although he refers to faith we can also use the concept in relation to anything having to do with our talk. There comes a time where our talk becomes meaningless without having action to backup what we say.