Hey, guys and gals! I’ve been trying to get some faith-based content posted for awhile, but as you may or may not have noticed, it hasn’t happened quite yet. However, the idea of starting a weekly Bible verse series has really been nagging at me, rendering my professional procrastination skills useless. I am not sure if there is someone out there who could really use the positive encouragement or what it is, but I know this is the proper time to get started, so here we go.
My favorite Bible app posts daily verses, so each week I will go through them to find my favorite one and share it. I’ll explain the background context of the verse, give you guys an example and then share some ideas to help you apply the message in your own life. Sound good? Cool. Let’s get started!
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in action and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18 AMP
The Main Message
Throughout 1 John, the Apostle John discusses many things in hopes of providing believers with education and guidance to help them be effective followers of Christ. He especially addresses the ways in which Christians should conduct themselves in order to truly follow in Christ’s footsteps. The demonstration of brotherly love, perhaps one of the most important things Jesus calls followers to do, is the basic foundation of Christian life. John describes how to best live up to this principle in 3:18. He urges believers to essentially live as Christ lived by loving others, but he warns against mere lip service. John emphasizes the importance of demonstrative love and urges everyone to act out this love with a pure heart that is focused on the Word (truth).
Most people, both believers and non-believers, understand the general flimsiness of words. Phrases such as “talk is cheap”, “practice what you preach” and “actions speak louder than words” indicate that there is something unreliable about “talking the talk, but not walking the walk”. This is because words are like vapor in the air. There’s nothing inherently credible or tangible about them, as they are simply a means of communicating ideas and feelings. The words that we speak do not have to be well thought out, intelligible or even true, which makes it hard for others to trust us based on the things we say alone.
People tend to like observable proof of things when they are deciding whether or not someone’s motives can be trusted. When we perform various actions, others can clearly see what we are (or aren’t) doing. With action, there is no concern over whether or not someone is or isn’t being truthful—you either did something or you didn’t. Positive action, especially towards others, usually requires a deeper degree of thought, energy and overall consideration than talking does, making it an effective means of illustrating who we are as a person.
Sure, a person can certainly do the right thing one moment, and still have impure motives. I’m sure we have all met someone in our lifetime who started off behaving one way only to suddenly show their true colors. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time. People can pretend to have right motives and simply behave in a way that matches the role they are playing. However, this sort of thing can be very hard to keep up. As Christians, we are not looking to only show love for others once in awhile or when it is most convenient for us. Instead, we should make it our duty to develop a consistent habit of showing compassion for our fellow man. Only then will love be effortless and of our true character.
Have you ever had someone promise you something, only to fail to follow through? Moments like this can not only disappoint us, but cause us to lose faith and trust in other people. However, think of a time when someone did something nice for you without your prior knowledge. It is possible that their actions made you feel loved and appreciated. Accompanying words probably weren’t necessary because you were able to personally witness the other person’s actions. This is the general basis of 1 John 3:18. In short, actions are far more convincing and valuable than words will ever be on their own.
1 John 3:18 calls for us to act out the word of God, for it is far more beneficial for others to witness Christ in us than to only hear of Him.
Something that I personally wish to point out in relation to this week’s verse, is the importance of offering love to our foes. I think most people have no problem with John’s call to show love when it concerns our family members or close friends. However, this is only part of the equation. God loves everyone just as Jesus loved everyone. Since God is no respecter of persons and hasn’t the ability to love one individual more than another, Christians are expected to follow this example.
This is why 1 John 3:18 is such a valuable verse for believers to keep in mind as we go through life. It may be easy to say that you have love for all people, but can you actually perform acts of love and goodwill towards individuals who talk poorly about you or mistreat you? Though it isn’t always easy to love the unlovely, I believe it is a hugely important goal to strive towards.
One of a believer’s responsibilities is to go out into the world and draw others to the faith by sharing the news of God’s goodness. How can we effectively do that if we are only willing to show love for those who we already get along well with? Though it is important to minister to our loved ones, this is usually not where the greatest need is. It is far more advantageous to direct our acts of kindness towards the very people we least want to. After all, if someone is unkind and makes you not want to associate with them, don’t you think they could benefit from knowing God as you do?
You may be asking, “You mean I really have to show love for that rude co-worker of mine? How can I do that? She’s awful!” Well, it can certainly be a challenge to go out of your way for those who aren’t kind to you, but there are many ways to go about it. It may be hard or feel awkward at first, but with practice, you’ll be loving your enemies in no time!
For instance, try to invite them out to lunch, bring them their favorite coffee or give them a compliment. They might be just as shocked by your consideration as you are, but it is possible that they will at least appreciate your efforts. However, the goal is not to receive a thank you from them. The goal is to help train your heart to view everyone as worthy recipients of your compassion and mercy. Also, it may encourage the other person to question how you have the inner resolve to be nice to them despite the way they treat you. They may not change into a perfect angel overnight, but a loving act is like a seed. With patience and care, it will grow.
Okay, so maybe you aren’t ready to share a croissant at brunch with your least favorite relative. That’s perfectly understandable. Another great way to start demonstrating love for people who have wronged you is to forgive them. Some people may not view forgiveness as an action, but its often one of the most challenging things to do if someone has hurt you enough. Some people hold grudges so long that they take their anger and pain straight to the grave with them. However, this bitterness surely ate away at them everyday of their life. I believe that forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give another, not to mention ourselves. Jesus is a great example of how powerful the act of forgiveness can be. Even as Jesus hung on the cross, he was still asking God to forgive those who had sent him to his death.
I strongly believe that the best way to share one’s faith and draw others near to it is by simply living it, not by preaching at people. When you operate out of genuine love and truth on a daily basis, people will start to view you very differently. You will stand out from the general public and seem to have or know something that others do not. Your life will be a testament of something very special, which others will surely want to inquire about and partake in. It is at that point that doors can be opened for you to share what you know about Christ.
When people can actually see Christ in the way you love and care for others, that is what shows them that God is real. To speak one doctrine, yet behave according to another is not only contradictory, but it sows doubt in those who witness it. It is important to be good representatives of the faith and treat everyone well, regardless of how they treat us. This is what it means to love through action and not by words. This is what is at the core of 1 John 3:18.