During the movie “On the Waterfront” (1954), Edie Doyle says to Terry Malloy, “I didn’t say I didn’t love you. I said to stay away from me.” Then there’s this guy whose wife complained that he never said he loved her. His response was that he’d told her he loved her when they got married and if that ever changed, he’d let her know. Otherwise, he showed his love in many other ways every day.
The Bible says we’re not to love with word or tongue, but with actions (1 John 3:18), possibly supporting what the husband told his wife (I really don’t believe that). Actually, the point of the verse is given in the preceding passage (1 John 3:16, 17 – we must always study the context to understand a particular verse).
We recognize someone’s feelings toward us only by the way they treat us and what they do for us. We understand ultimate love in the fact that Jesus laid down his life for us (John 15:13; Romans 5:6-10). We show our love for him by doing what he says (John 15:14; 14:15; 1 John 5:1-3; 4:19). As an example of laying down our lives for others, Christians are to show our love tangibly by setting some of our own personal comforts aside to meet their basic needs. Then, even non-Christians will know the nature of our love – that it’s for God and that everyone benefits from love for God (John 13:34, 35; 1 Peter 1:22, 23; 2 Corinthians 9:10-15).
Always remember that many Americans literally lay down their lives at home and abroad for us through service in the military, law enforcement, and fire protection, out of love for country that extends to each resident in a similar manner that God so loved the world that whosoever (any individual resident) could be saved by believing in the son he gave up for us (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).
Anyway, giving our time, abilities, and possessions proves that our love for others is genuine and greater than our love for things. It also shows the world that we really mean what we say and that we really believe in Jesus. Anything, however good, though, not done in this love won’t be as beneficial because, just as people recognize genuine love when they see it, they also know when it’s being shown for mere personal benefit (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Jude 1:16; Matthew 7:16-20).
Lately, I’ve noticed that restaurants and retail stores are encouraging donations to charities and volunteerism. Maybe you’ve seen the credit card ad promoting such community involvement and can remember the past encouragement to do random acts of kindness. These are all good if they’re based in true love because they’re a reminder that God loves you and will never tell you to stay away from him if you love him (Isaiah 59:1, 2; Matthew 11: 28-30; John 6:37).
Still, God hasn’t changed his terms for our salvation through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 2:38, 39; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Peter 1: 25).
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org