True love lives in actions and not in words

In novel writing (and maybe other forms of writing), there is really one cardinal rule to producing an excellent story. Sure, character development is key. Yes, plot is essential. But this cardinal rule is more basic than anything else. It’s the rule of show, don’t tell.

Ever heard that? If you’re a writer, you probably have. If you’re not a writer, maybe it sounds foreign to you until you start thinking about the rules of relationships. It’s one thing to tell someone something. It’s something else to show them.

“Jack walked through the tall grass” is much less meaningful than, “The tips of the prairie grass tickled Jack’s fingers as he marched across the field.” See the difference? The first time, I’m telling you what Jack is doing. The second time, you see what’s actually happening. In writing, that’s the difference between showing and telling.

Frankly, relationships aren’t much different.

love-wide-wallpaper-1920x1200-008Today’s verse is 1 John 3:18.

 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Have you ever told someone that you love them? It’s easy to do. Those three words fall off our lips, often without any thought of consequence or commitment. You love your friends. You love your family. You love your coworkers (usually).

But what does it mean to love someone? Is it just something you say? Or is there more to it than that?

You can tell someone you love them and the treat them poorly. We see it everyday. What people say doesn’t match up with their actions, and that’s not the way relationships are supposed to work. What’s even more troubling is that we see it in the Church. We see it between brothers and sisters in Christ.

Did you realize that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you belong to Him? Yes, you probably knew that. So then do you understand that if the person sitting next to you at work or at school believes in Jesus Christ too, that makes him or her your brother or sister? That means you are family. That means you are called to love that person with a love that defies explanation, and that love is what will make the world see us as different–as having something they lack.

Christ-followers are family. Maybe that’s why we feel justified in tearing each other apart so frequently.

You say you love the Christian sitting next to you. When push comes to shove, will your love stop at words? When that Christian runs into financial trouble or family trouble or any kind of trouble, can you sit still and keep saying you love them while you do absolutely nothing to help them?

It’s the same with our brothers and sisters around the world. We sit in our comfortable homes, living our comfortable lives, and we post on social media that we love and support our brothers and sisters who are suffering around the world. But what are you doing about it?

I know some people get frustrated with the concept of trying to prove their love to others, but I don’t think that’s what this is about. The truth is that love is an action word, and our culture tries to turn it into a passive idea. Love isn’t something that just happens. Love is intentional–or at least it should be.

So who do you love? Do they know? I mean, do they really know, or are they just used to you telling them? When was the last time you showed them?

If you love someone, whether it’s family or friends or coworkers or just strangers on the street, saying you love them isn’t enough. The difference between showing and telling when it comes to your relationships is who your love is about.

Is the love you feel about you? Do you tell people that you love them to make yourself feel better? Or are you willing to sacrifice your comfort or your security or even your life to do something for someone else?

That’s the difference. The truth about love is that it’s not about you. Love that’s about you isn’t love; it’s selfishness. Love that’s about other people? That’s real love. It’s not easy. It’s actually terrifying. But that’s the love we’re called to have, the kind of love that lives in actions and not just in words.

Blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Loving without doing

Can you follow Christ and sit at the same time? And I don’t mean rest because many times Christ-followers will work themselves to death, and I firmly believe we should rest before we get to that point. But how closely related is action to our Christian walk?

Many times, I think people accept Christ because they want to avoid going to hell. And don’t get me wrong. That’s a great reason to accept Christ. But it’s not the only reason. Being able to spend eternity in heaven with God after we die is certainly a huge selling point of Christianity, but for me there are more important reasons that have to deal with our daily life. Eternity is the end reward. Do we even realize that following Christ offers awesome blessings every day?

But you won’t get the opportunity to be blessed if you sit back and do your own thing all the time.

Blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Blooming rose in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is 1 John 3:18.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Love is a human experience that shouldn’t be passive. I won’t say passive love isn’t real, but sometimes I wonder. If you love someone, you want to do things for them, you want to show them how much you love them. Maybe that’s just me.

I don’t need people to prove their love for me personally, but when it comes to expressing my love for other people, I love to serve. I love to help. I love to do things for them as evidence to them that I love them.

Even if you aren’t one of those crazy servant-hearted people who run themselves into the ground in the name of Christ, you still do things for people you love. You don’t just sit back and refuse to interact with people you love. You don’t sit back and watch them struggle without doing something to help. Even if all you can do is pray for them, you still do something.

If you tell someone you love them, are you willing to back it up with actions?

The difficulty comes when we realize just how difficult love can be. Love hurts. You always take a risk when you love, no matter what kind of love it is. if it’s friendship-love or family-love or romantic-love, it doesn’t matter. Love makes you vulnerable. Love opens the door to your heart and decorates it in bright neon signs, which makes it ever so much easier to find and break.

It’s so much easier to tell someone you love them and then invent a clever reason why you can’t help them when they ask. It’s so much easier to tell someone you love them and then keep yourself so busy you don’t have time to invest in their lives.

Love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Because when you love as a Christ-follower, God’s love shows through you. And God’s love changes people. God’s love changes you inside, and it changes the people around you too.

The more you love like God loves, the more you start to see like Him. You see people like God sees them. You see the world like God sees it. And it’s really really hard to hate people when you’re looking at them through God’s love.

And how does this amount to blessings? Well, have you tried it?

I’m the most blessed person in the world. I really believe that. I try not to think about it too much because I’ll just turn into a crying wreck of sloppy gratitude and dumbstruck awe that God would give me so much to be thankful for. But years ago, I didn’t believe that. Years ago, I didn’t see the blessing. I just saw people and problems and the never-ending struggle to survive from day to day, but the more I’ve learned and the more I’ve gotten to know God, the more I understand what He’s done for me personally. And that alone is enough to help me see that I’m already blessed.

But more than already blessed, I’m already loved. God loves me so much, I can’t help but love other people too. Yeah, it’s messy and exhausting and emotionally draining at times, but what can compare to watching someone else experience God’s love through you?