“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Love is a physical feeling or emotional sentiment to much of the world, and an empty action or, worse, words about action to too many in the church. Feeling and sentiment alone do no one any good. Words and promises alone do no one any good, but likewise neither does loving actions and a smile on the face while bitterness and anger linger in the heart.
One of the chief reasons we struggle to consistently love is because we’ve relegated love to mere behavior. If we harbor anger and bitterness and resentment in our hearts, life will give us plenty of excuses to be passive aggressive, procrastinate, and avoid the act or the person altogether. It is also true that we can genuinely find ourselves flooded, or we may have physical conditions that make it difficult for us prioritize tasks and control our behavior and impulses in the flesh.
At some point, we need to let love motivate us to stop letting life and our weaknesses push us around, come to the cross, examine our hearts, and lay out before the Lord honestly what we’re really feeling rather than going through the motions. Only there can we get rid of the weights and toxins that hinder us and be filled with his love and forgiveness and grace. That is the place where we can receive spiritual wisdom and the fruit of self-control, the power we need to be transformed and the strength we need to do his will, to synchronize our heart to beat more in time with God’s and obey out of trust, love for God, and a genuine desire to do righteousness.
Lord, forgive us for pretending and going through the motions. We pray our love for you and others would be genuine and selfless. Search us, Lord, and show us what is truly in our hearts, and strengthen our relationship with you, bring us to a place where we will be comfortable confessing the “bad emotions” that poison us to you. Draw out of us everything that hinders us from loving both in deed and in truth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.