Love in Deed and Truth
Sunday, December 28, 2008
"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18, ESV)
1. Actions speak louder than words and this verse today spells it out for all believers. John starts this passage with "Little children" the term he uses to describe his "dearly loved ones."
2. Love must be defined before we move on because we can fool ourselves into thinking we are something if we do not have a definition.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, ESV)
" Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." (Romans 12:9, ESV)
" I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV)
"remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 1:3, ESV)
"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart," (1 Peter 1:22, ESV)
3. Our love for God must be real before our love for one another can be. We see many times in Scripture where a people "draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is nowhere to be found."
"And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men," (Isaiah 29:13, ESV)
"...Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?" (Isaiah 29:16, ESV)
"You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart." (Jeremiah 12:2, ESV)
"And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain." (Ezekiel 33:31, ESV)
4. In other passages we are told that people "flatter Him with their mouths and lie to Him with their tongues."
"But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant." (Psalm 78:36-37, ESV)
5. John talks about love and James talks about faith. Last week we saw that love for the brothers must be applied. Love and faith have this in common - both need deeds to prove their genuineness. Words of love that are never translated into action are worthless.
"If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" (James 2:15-16, ESV)
"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?" (James 2:20, ESV)
6. In order to be genuine, love seeks the welfare of others: "it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (I Cor. 13:7). Love is the act of giving of one's possessions, talents, and self to someone else.
7. The words we speak must correspond to our actions, and the use of our tongue must agree with the truth of God's Word. Words and talk find their counterpart in actions and truth. Jesus gives the ultimate declaration on those who do not love the brothers - the eternal fires of hell.
It is significant that John ends this verse with the word truth to remind us of Jesus, the supreme example of love, who said, "I am the "truth" (John 14:6).
""Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'" (Matthew 25:41-45, ESV)
8. Love in tongue only is not real love - it is falsely claimed, it is a pretend love. Let us not profess by the tongue that we love, but prove it by the deed; for this is the only true way of showing love.
Practical Considerations in 3:16–18
In many families today, divorce, desertion, and separation create untold grief and bitterness. Couples who at the time of the wedding declared that they would love each other “until death do us part” exhibit callous indifference when they contemplate divorce. Their wedding vows lie broken like pieces of porcelain on a stone floor. What went wrong?
Love has vanished because it could not flourish in an atmosphere of ever taking but never giving. Love can succeed only in an environment where it is allowed to give, for genuine love is sacrificial giving.
Look at the divine example. God loves nothing more than to be able to give. Indeed, he loved us so much that he gave his one and only Son to die for us (see John 3:16), and out of love for his people Jesus laid down his life. Says John, “We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
What does the Lord expect in marriage? Husband and wife should honor and love one another even to the point of being willing to lay down their life for one another. When husband and wife tenderly care for each other by imitating Christ’s example of sacrificial love, they will experience that God keeps them together in marital love and blesses their home and family with years of wedded bliss.
Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 3:18
— in this verse John lists four nouns (word, tongue, deed, and truth). Only the word tongue has the definite article.
GracePointe Baptist Church
2209 N Post Road
Oklahoma City, OK 73141
Phone: (405) 769-5050