Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
1 John 3:18 NLT
It’s been said, “Love is not a noun that needs to be defined, but a verb that needs to be demonstrated.” The validity of our love is verified by our walk, not our words.
In his writings to 1st century Christ followers, John communicates a clarifying conviction of compassion. He illustrates Jesus’ impactful instruction, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (Jn 13:35 NLT)
The proof is not so much in the “pudding”, as in the practice.
Love Puts In. Love is an investment in others that provides an immeasurable return. It’s living by love . . . It’s giving in grace. The disciple of love tells us, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn 4:11 ESV). Our compassion for others creates a contributing cause. Mitch Alborn wrote, “The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
Love Puts Up. Love is an adoring acceptance and a tender tolerance. Paul reminds us, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Eph 4:2 NLT). Love does not condemn, it covers. Solomon writes, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” (Prov 10:12 ESV).
Love Puts Out. This phrase will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows. The measure by which we receive God’s love is minimal compared to our responses with God’s love. Expressing His compassion is a wanting, willing and worshipping experience. John establishes the litmus test of love. He writes, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 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?” (1 Jn 3:16-17 NLT). Sharing God’s love unshackles us to serve others. Paul writes, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Gal 5:13 NLT)
Unselfish love leads to an undeniable legacy. In her recent challenge to next-generation leaders, Kay Warren said, “The depth to which we can give and receive compassion is the benchmark by which we measure the success of our lives.”
Let’s not just define love . . . let’s allow it to define us.