March 29, 2011

With Actions and in Truth

1 John 3:16-24

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


In the final days before his death, Jesus talked a lot about sacrificial love. Those words seem very lofty and elevated— it’s hard for many of us to imagine having to lay down our lives in love. But the words of 1 John today bring Jesus’ words right down to the hard reality of a hurting world.

John repeats Jesus’ words about laying down our lives for one another; then he guides us out into the mean streets of our cities, into the shabby homes of the poor, into the shoes of a discouraged church member who has lost his job. Here is the test of love. How do we respond to a real person in need?

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? It’s easy to turn away from the needy. We’re busy. We’re already stretched. We’re not sure how we can help. Besides, maybe the person brought it on himself. Still, true love gives birth to pity.

When God looks at us in our need, he could justifiably turn away. Heaven knows all the problems we have brought on ourselves.

But God felt pity, compassion, mercy—love for us in our need. And on the cross he loved us with actions and in truth. The wisdom of the cross shows us how love saves the needy.

How deep is our love? Does it show in actions and in truth?

Our Father, fill us with your love so that we can love the needy with true sacrificial love. Amen.

About the author — Stanley Mast

Beginning in 1971, Rev. Stanley Mast has served churches in Missouri, Colorado, and Michigan. After teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary for a few years, he was the minister of preaching at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until his retirement in 2012. Stan and his wife, Sharon, enjoy time with their two sons and five grandchildren.

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