Jesus said to his disciples... “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another...” (John 13:34) 1 According to Jesus, the mark of a Christian is love. Take a moment to let that sink in... Love. It's the most significant attribute Christians can offer the world. However, we need to be reminded that love isn't merely a feeling; it's something you do. Country singer Clint Black sings a song along these lines; one verse says, “Love isn't something that we're in. It's something that we do.” 2 In other words, love is a verb!
I don't know where he got his inspiration, but it could have come from 1 John 3. The apostle John reveals to us that love is an action more than a feeling. He challenges us in verse 18, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Again, love is something you do. It’s a verb!
Our love can be expressed in deeds of sacrifice. Christ showed the ultimate act of sacrifice to us. He came into the world; He lived a perfect life. He knew the only way He could bridge the gap between sinful humanity and a holy God was to lay down His life and die on the cross for our sins. That is what He did. He willingly laid down His life so that we could have a personal, oneon-one, heart-to-heart relationship with God. I don't know why He would do that for me, but He did. I will never understand such love — to die for one so unlovely. But that is what Christ has done. He is our example of what love is. John elaborates on love in I John 3:16:
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
What do we sacrifice for others? Well, one of the most important things you and I can sacrifice is our time. John said that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers, but you and I both know it is highly unlikely that you and I will be called upon to give our life for someone this week.
However, there is high likelihood that you will be called upon to give your time for someone this week. Time that you would rather spend reading. Time that you would rather spend relaxing. Time that you would rather spend watching TV. Time that you would rather spend on yourself. It doesn't matter how you feel about it; it only matters what you do about it. If you sacrifice your life, your time, you are showing them an act of love. It's not enough to say we have feelings of love for the people in our life; the question is, Are we willing to show it? Love is something we do. Love is a verb!
We've got to get past the idea that love is a feeling. There are people in our lives that we have strong feelings for, and we call those feelings "love." But without matching actions, those feelings mean very little. You say you have feelings of love for people? Show me a feeling. What does a feeling look like? John tells us that when it comes to expressing love, feelings and words aren't enough; we must show our love in action. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Love is a verb!
A member of my family used to volunteer at a center for abused women. She told me the comment she heard again and again from women who decide to go back home to an abusive situation is: "Deep down inside, I know he really loves me." I guess what they mean is that, deep down inside, this abusive person has some kind of feeling for them. But their relationship can't be called love, because love doesn't express itself that way. You can't say you love someone you constantly mistreat. You can't say you love someone you constantly disregard, or ignore, or belittle, or demean. Whether or not you love someone is determined by how you treat them.
Love isn't a feeling; it's something you do. It's treating someone with kindness. It's showing them respect. It's sharing words of encouragement. It’s visiting them when it would be easier to stay home. It's giving them a smile. It's offering your hand when they need it. When it comes down to it… Love is a verb. Without action, it is just a word.
1 All texts are from the New King James Version of the Bible.
2 Something That We Do, Clint Black, album: The Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.