1 John 4:10, 19-21, Romans 5:8
Who do you say ‘I love you’ to the most? Probably your family isn’t it? Your spouse or your kids or your parents? We say ‘I love you’ to them all the time maybe even every day.
Do you mean it? What do you mean, pastor, do I mean it? Of course I mean it! Why else would I say it? Well, it’s often been said just as much that actions speak louder than words.
Do your actions show that you love your family? Thinking for myself how often I am willing to bend over backwards for members of the church for maybe sometimes complete strangers to shift my entire schedule around to fit theirs. To make time for them or to go out of my way to help them. And yet who suffers? Often, for me it’s my family because they’ll understand.
Well on the outside maybe people can say ‘Wow look at that individual he’s so selfless and giving and kind all of the time.’ Yet what is it like in our own homes among the people that we claim that we love? Is there anger, dissension, and hurt because we aren’t showing the love through our actions that we speak with our lips?
Is the same true when it comes to God? Do we merely say ‘I love you’ but don’t follow through with our actions? The second half of the commandments, the second table the law, has often been summarized in this way: love your neighbor as yourself. And why do we want to do that? Well in 1 John chapter 4 it says this:
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
We want to show love to other people because God has first showed love to us. We show our love through our actions but the apostle John continues to write.
If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, love God, whom he has not seen? This then is the command we have from him: The one who loves God should also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21)
If we claim to love God and yet are hurtful and hate-filled towards even our own family members, our own brothers, we’re acting like hypocrites aren’t we? We’re not showing the love of God that is in us. And I think when we think about that command love your neighbor as yourself we maybe think of people that live across the street or in our community or people that we work with but really love your neighbor as yourself begins in your own home with your own spouse and with your own kids.
And so often we fail. Perhaps what is better for us to do is not focus on the love that we lack for others, but to remind ourselves of what John says just 10 versus prior.
This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
The true love that exists is God’s love for you and His Son Jesus Christ that as Paul writes “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Jesus died for people who are undeserving, unworthy, unloving, and showed it even with their actions. And yet because of the grace and mercy of God he loves you. And it’s that that inspires your love for your fellow man.
Whether it be the person in your community, or the neighbor across the street, or especially your own spouse, your own kids, your own family members show the love of God that he has shown to you in his forgiveness of sins through our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.