Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth
1 John 3:17-18. New American Standard Bible
17 But whoever has worldly goods and sees his brother or sister in need, and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God remain in him? 18 Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
John begins these two verses by asking a questions: “but whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” John is attacking and confronting insincere love. True biblical love requires action. It is not merely based on word and tongue.
If we claim that we love God, then we will choose to live our lives for Him. We will not merely give God lip service while not living for Him. The same exist in our love for our brothers and sisters. John points out that our love should be demonstrated in deed and truth. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father”. In James 2:14-17 he writes “14 What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
True biblical faith and love requires action. Jesus demonstrated this throughout His earthly life. He not only came to give His life to save us, He came to live His life before us as a model of how we are to live on a daily basis. Jesus loved those who didn’t deserve it. Jesus sacrificially laid down His life for us and there is nothing within us that deserves His love, His mercy, nor His sacrifice.
But He did it regardless because in all that He did, He did all things from a place of selfless, sacrificial love. If God has blessed us, He is calling us to be a blessing to others. When we are faithful with that which is small and insignificant, the Lord will increase us because He knows we can be trusted.
Over and over throughout this letter John writes about love.
We must remember in his gospel he referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. During Jesus earthly ministry John and James were known as the sons of thunder. At one point they asked Jesus if they should pray for fire to be poured out on those who had rejected Him in Samaria. But Jesus had changed the life of John. This once rugged fishermen had been transformed into a man who in all he did was focused on God’s love for others.
To truly know Christ is to be able to walk in His love. His love will immerse our lives as we simply abide in Him. John writes often of abiding and remaining because this is what Christ spoke to him and the other disciples before He went to the cross. He is the vine and we are the branches. As we abide daily in Him and partake of the life He has, His life will be produced within us and we will desire to love others as He has first loved us. To truly love as Jesus calls us to love, we must know Him and first encounter His love.