Practical Love; November 9, 2021

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Sometimes we forget what a practical, down-to-earth book the Bible is. Here John very politely knocks the stuffing out of people who say nice things but don’t follow through. We see it all the time, and truth be told, we can do it ourselves. That’s one way we are very different from God! God’s very words create worlds, but ours don’t have that power, and we’ve got to follow them up with action. These days we have a lot of people saying compassionate-sounding things, but they want the government to do the acting, rather than taking personal responsibility. To be blunt, they want it done with somebody else’s money. An experiment was done on multiple college campuses of talking with students about “the needs of the poor,” and the students were very enthusiastic. Then, the suggestion was made that everyone go sell their rather expensive smart phones to get the money to help the poor, and instantly, no one was in favor. That’s exactly what John is talking about here. God doesn’t demand poverty of everyone; that would totally destroy any economy. What He does say is that we are responsible for what He puts in our hands, not in the hands of others, so we are to express love with what we ourselves can do. If the Church worldwide were really living this out, there would be no need for the vast majority of government programs. We need to look honestly at our words and our actions and see if they line up. Sometimes all we can do is pray, but do we pray? Likewise, any time we pray we need to be willing to be God’s instrument in answering that prayer, even if it means personal sacrifice. To go back to John, we indeed need to love in actions and in truth.

I think I’ve done my share of saying, “Go in peace, be warm and filled,” (James 2:16) without doing anything to make it happen. I certainly can’t say I’m proud of that! I have also promised prayer many times that I have failed to follow through, and that too is shameful. In seminary, Dr. Cal Guy set a magnificent example that I strive to follow. Any time anyone asked for prayer, whether in the middle of class, walking across the campus, or in a grocery store in town, he would stop and pray, and it was genuine, heartfelt prayer. There often is very little I can do physically to improve situations, but I can always pray, and nothing is too difficult for God. However, as I have said, I must never remove myself from God’s list of options in meeting that need, answering that prayer.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for prompting me through Cathy to call the family last night whose mother was taken to the hospital yesterday. I do pray Your best for each member of that family and Your total healing for that mother. I pray that I would not hesitate to lay down my life for those in my care, not being jealous of my time or effort but giving myself fully to You through giving myself to them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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