Written by Elisabeth Chandra for YMI, originally in Bahasa Indonesia
“Love is a Verb”, goes the song by John Mayer, the book by Gary Chapman, and the 2014 movie. The basic message all three convey is that true love involves action, not mere lip-service. I agree fully, as the Bible says, “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). God’s greatest commandment also tells us that “love” involves our whole being: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . and . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).
But sometimes I find myself growing weary of trying to show love to others. I even feel a little hypocritical when I’m being charitable to people I don’t really care for. Have you ever felt that way?
Words without actions are empty, but even actions must be taken for the right reasons. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor . . . but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Why we show love is just as important as how.
Love is more than just a verb, more than just a fleeting feeling of generosity. The Bible has a lot more to say about true, godly love. Here are three lessons I’ve taken to heart:
1. Love originates from God. The Bible says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7), and “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Love for God and for those around us is the fruit of the Spirit as we submit our lives to His direction (Galatians 5:22).
2. Love should be the underlying motive for our actions. We read in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It was love for us that moved God to send His Son. This motive is constant and eternal. God’s love is the reason we ought to reach out lovingly to others, so that they too will believe in Him and experience abundant life in Him. Any other motive will cause our love to be seasonal and superficial.
3. Love flows from the joy of knowing God and obeying Him. It is impossible to grow in love apart from God, because love originates from God. If we do not take joy in knowing and obeying God, how can we experience His love? Our Lord Jesus demonstrated great joy in obeying His father. He endured the terrible ordeal of the cross “for the joy set before Him”, the joy of completing the work given by His Father (Hebrews 12:2). What an act of love He performed, moved by the joy of knowing that God was pleased with Him! We should draw encouragement from His example whenever we are in danger of growing weary or losing heart (Hebrews 12:3).
As I strive to become a more loving person, I pray that God will grant me first and foremost the joy to remain in Him, the source of love, and to cherish Him as my greatest treasure and eternal reward. Only then, I believe, can my love be extended to others, be it family, friends, colleagues, or any others that cross my path. May this be your prayer too.