"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18
Yesterday, I was reading John Wesley's Sermon 98, On Visiting the Sick. Wesley cites Jesus in Matthew 35-36, choosing sickness as the example for the sermon.
“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me,”
The gist of his message is that we can go to church, read our bibles, pray, and take communion but there are infinitely more opportunities to respond to God's grace. That is the very minimum; God desires more for us. Wesley says that none are exempted -- young or old, male or female, rich or poor -- from demonstrating our care for each other.
The author of today’s verse is not telling us to not love with words and speech. We absolutely should tell those we love how we feel about them. We need to say it, and they need to hear it. But it is more than just saying the words or writing a note; it is putting that love into action. If we tell someone we love them but never demonstrate what that means, how authentic is our love.
Whatever actions we take must be real. They must be truthful. It must be done with the heart of Christ. Whether it is visiting the sick or the prisoner, feeding and clothing the hungry, or something else, it is done in response to the love that God shows us. In our actions, we are not merely showing our love for each other but our love for God.
Mighty and gracious God, we give you thanks for your unfailing love. In your Son Jesus, you gave us the purest example of your love for us and, through him, how we should love each other. We confess that we love imperfectly. Please help us in our saying and in our doing. May the love we share be for your glory. Amen.