RE:1 John 3:18
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”
Yesterday, when I was doing my Daily Bread reading I decided to go beyond the suggested reading and continue through more of 1 John. I don’t normally have much extra time in the morning, so I don’t often wander away from the short basic lesson that is set out for the day. But I happened to wake up earlier than normal and I was in need of something to cling to for the day. You see, this past week has been hard with the passing of my Grandfather, and I’ve been feeling distant from God. So I wanted to find something to draw me back. As I read I got to the verse above, 1 John 3:18, and found it interesting, but not really what I was wanting. I spent the rest of the day feeling a bit off with God, and wanting more of him in my life.
Today however, I had some free time in the morning, and figured I would see if I could find that verse again. I looked around for a few minutes and then found it. Now this verse isn’t that profound or earth-shattering really. It’s just a simple instruction that John gave to the receiver of his letter. But as I thought about this verse it reminded me of my heart for missions, and what kind of missions I want to do. So here I will explain:
When people ask me what I want to do when I ‘grow up’ I tell them I’m interested in missions. They then either say “oh that’s cool, have you been anywhere interesting?” or “oh…ok”. I feel that when most people think of missionaries (those that don’t know any personally) they tend to think of people preaching on a street corner or handing out tracks. Or maybe planting churches in crazy jungles in South America or Africa somewhere. Although there are missionaries like that, it’s not really what I mean when I say I want to do missions.
My interest is in helping people get out of the harsh situations they are in. Not to change who they are or their culture per se, but to show them a better way to live. Whether that is manifested through emotional, physical or spiritual support. My aim, whenever I’ve been on the mission field, has always been to help people in the name of Jesus. I’m not and Evangelist. I don’t necessarily feel a deep need to shout Jesus from the rooftops. My way is a little more personal, a little more quite. So when I read this verse ‘let us not love with words…but with action’ I found it a bit refreshing. I always felt like I only showed the love of Christ in this way because I was afraid. And honestly in some cases I am. But generally speaking I am better with actions than I am with words so it makes more sense that I would use my hands and feet to serve the Lord rather than my words. (not that words aren’t important, that’s not what I’m saying here)
However, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about this was how people tend to read the Bible how they want to read it. They find verses that support what they believe and ignore the verses that tell them they need to change. I don’t want to do that. I want to be willing to change if it will better myself and the Kingdom of God. So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is if there are any of my beliefs or thoughts about things that need to be changed to line up with the whole word of God, and not just that one obscure verse that I cling to to try to justify myself. I don’t know. It’s something I’ll have to think and pray about.
The second thing that came to mind with this verse is the last two words “in truth”. To love in truth. I asked myself what this meant, what does John mean to love in truth. The best explanation I could gather on my drive into work was that he means to love honestly or sincerely. Not to pretend, but to actually love those you are serving. This one’s a little hard to swallow. It’s one thing to love someone, kind of, because Jesus told you to. But it’s another thing when you have to mean it. To truly love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only that but to truly love your enemies and those you dislike. This is what Jesus taught, and it’s something I’m honestly going to have to work on, because sometimes I just don’t want to love someone, sometimes it’s easier to not serve, to not be like Jesus. But this is where the Holy Spirit comes in, and the Spirit will help when asked. The hard part is chosing to go against your nature and ask for help to serve and love your enemies.
These are some of the things that I’ve been thinking about for the past 48 hours. I don’t know if they will help any of you readers at all. But I’ve found that when you tell people what God is teaching you, it’s more exciting to see what God is doing.
Have a blessed day,