I’m not actually suggesting that you stop saying, “I love you.” Who am I to offer a suggestion like that anyway, right? Truthfully, I knew the words would catch your attention – just like they have caught mine. But why did it take 44 years of life to finally come to the realization that I need to be very careful about how these words come tumbling out of my mouth? Call me a slow learner, but I recently came to a very important realization.
The Lord had brought me back once again into the life of someone I love very much. Despite a challenging past with this person, I decided to give the Lord an opportunity to teach me how to love the way I should have loved all along – with His unfailing love, rather than my human love that can only go so far. But quickly, and I can only see it now in retrospect, I fell into an old, and dangerous, habit. Just like I like to say, “I love you” to so many of my friends, I found myself saying the words to my friend with whom I had become reconciled – not just a little, but a lot.
So what’s the big deal, right? Actually, it’s a very big deal. My actions were not matching my words. I ended our telephone conversations, and our in-person communication, with, “I love you.” Most of the time, anyway. Much of the time, my words were sincere. A very little of the time, they were not. But even this is not my point. I was spewing out the words by habit, sometimes by emotion, and sometimes to prove a point. I wanted this friend to really believe I spoke the truth. But what about my actions?
The love God calls us to is not about words, nor is it about emotions. Nor is the love He calls us to have for others a human love that is based on circumstances, situations, and conditions. God calls us to love with His love, and His love is unfailing, unconditional, giving, serving, and so much more. And for those of us who place our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who are filled with His Holy Spirit, we are equipped with His heart and His love to bestow upon the world around us.
So what exactly happened to me and my friend? The deeper I fell into my routine of saying, “I love you,” the more I became mired in focusing on my “I love you” words rather than my heart and my actions. And while I ultimately was able to see the junk I held in my heart that was not loving at all, I did not adequately purge the junk from my heart so that I could be a pure vessel through which God would channel His love to my friend.
When I go one step further, I confess another grave error. Along with the words “I love you”, I spoke altogether too many words that were not loving at all. In fact, they were downright judgmental, critical, and condemning. Ouch. So there I was, saying “I love you” while doing just about everything other than loving.
Imagine the hurt I caused and the sorrow I feel in confessing this before the Lord, my friend, and you who listen and read what I have done. Thankfully, I know that God’s mercy never runs out and His grace is sufficient. My friend has a big heart, and will forgive me or perhaps already has. And I, alas, by God’s mercy and grace, will have to let myself off the hook. Then, as I have done so many times before, I will have to get up off the floor, so to speak, dust myself off, and begin again.
My pastor has been teaching recently about how love is not an emotion, but rather a decision. I would add to this that love is so much more than a word. In truth, love is an action and an expression of who God is – and who God is in and through us if we choose to purify our hearts, mouths and lives that we may truly be the vessel He desires through which He can shower the world with His love.
Jas 3:2 KJV “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
Jas 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
Jas 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Jas 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Jas 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Jas 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
Jas 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Jas 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Jas 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Jas 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
2Ti 2:19 KJV “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
2Ti 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
2Ti 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
1Jn 3:16 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1Jn 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
1Jn 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1Jn 3:19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
1Jn 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”