This morning as I was preparing for my day and going about my typical routine of mediation and reflection, asking God to give me all that I need to achieve what assignment He has for me that day, I came across a verse that nearly jumped off the page.
"If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." - 1 John 3:17-18 NLT
The rest of the day, I contemplated the complexity of that particular passage of scripture, and examined it from all angles.
Let's not merely say that we love each other... let us show the truth by our actions.
I have always been infatuated with the idea of love.
My very first tattoo is imprinted in black ink on my right wrist with the words "love conquers all" in Hebrew.
I grew up in a very loving home. To this day, text conversations with my parents and brother are always ended with, "I love you!". Having the ability to express love has never been a struggle for me. Yet, as I read this verse, I cannot help to be overcome by extreme conviction.
To the average person, moving to a place like Haiti and working in an orphanage should suffice as "living out your love". But in all actuality, it's the largest mirror to reflect your every flaw, ounce of selfishness and secrets you never want to face.
So if sending your mom & dad an 'I love you' text, or living in a Haitian orphanage don't qualify as living out your love, then what in the world does?
The more I think about this verse, the more I realize that it is far less about what you say or do, but how and why you say or do it.
If the motive behind telling a loved one that you care for them is to get something from them.
If the motive behind moving to a Third World country is to gain reverence and accolades from others or to run away from a problem.
If the motive for any act of "love" is not driven by sheer, selfless love, then it's empty, worthless and worse than just flat out being rude or self-centered.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV
Words without love are nothing.
Action without love is nothing.
But where does that love come from? And what does it look like?
"He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep." - John 21:17 ESV
Jesus is the embodiment of love. He came to a broken world filled with hurt and messy people who in turn rejected the one thing He gave them without ever asking for anything in return.
All that was asked was that they accepted that love and allow it to change them from the inside out.
So when Jesus sat with His disciples, – His closest friends, and asked them if they loved Him, their reply of, "Yes Lord! Of course we love you!" was simply not enough.
It wasn't enough for Jesus' most intimate followers to just soak in His love and bask in His presence. They had to DO something with the food that had been fed into their soul.
They had to give it away.
And that's what we must do. Allow that beautiful, raw, wild love of Christ to flood deep inside our most inner recesses and cause it to completely change our heart and mind. Then we can live out our love and that love will change others.
Let love in. Let it change you and completely strip down and rebuild everything you ever thought about how to give and receive it.
It's a messy, difficult process to learn how to love and how to live it, but it is the most powerful force in the universe.
A love that conquers death.
"Love isn't a perfect state of caring. It is an active noun, like struggle." - Fred Rogers