1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. That’s not to say that words aren’t important, because they are, but it is to say that our words must be congruent with our actions, and vice versa. Jesus was big on this, ripping into the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and publicly acknowledging the faith of those who acted on their faith. Verbal confession of faith is important, as Paul pointed out, (Romans 10:9) but most of the letter of James is focused on the futility of faith that is no more than words. When Jesus, Paul, James, and John put so much emphasis on the matter, it’s pretty clear this has been an issue all along. (As a matter of fact, Moses and most of the OT prophets also bring it up!) As I point out to husbands in marriage counseling, expressing love verbally is important, but that must be backed up with loving actions, just as John says here. When the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all we are, and the Second is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, getting this right is a matter of considerable urgency!
I have been blessed throughout my life with people who have expressed love to me both verbally and otherwise, but there are those who have not been so blessed. As I try to help parents understand, parental love includes appropriate discipline, and many have been severely damaged by problems in that area, by parents who either disciplined inappropriately, or more often today, failed to discipline. I see many who never had a healthy example of spousal interaction as they were growing up, and so have no idea how to act toward their spouse when they get married. We tend to make our love conditional, forgetting that we are no more perfect than the person we think we love. If God acted that way, mankind would have been destroyed long ago! God is indeed perfect, but He is the only one who is, and His love is unconditional. I need not only to teach that, I need to live it out in practical terms every moment of every day.
Father, the longer I live, the more I realize that life is a workshop in Your kind of loving. Thank You for not flunking me out! Thank You for Your truly amazing grace, and for the privilege of being an instrument of that grace. Thank You for those You allowed us to impact yesterday, with words and actions. Thank You for Your plans for today. Help us rest in the assurance that Your plans are good, not being anxious about anything but rejoicing in You, expressing Your love in word and action, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!