If you asked 100 random people to describe love, you would get a variety of answers: acceptance, friendship, happiness, a soul mate, forgiveness, passion, commitment, and more. The fact that so many would answer differently probably indicates that some are describing different facets of love, and some just aren’t sure. For “love” may be one of the most over-used words in cultures that crave genuine relationships and (when often disappointed) highlight personal experience as the next best thing. But most of us would probably agree that love is more than words.
The love that Jesus showed and calls us to give and receive is a daily, sacrificial care for others in ways that honor Him – even when it costs us. Consider some of the passages in which godly love is describe by actions in contrast to mere words.
- “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:11-16)
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
- “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)
- What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
- By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
A Houston furniture store lets evacuees sleep in its showroom
“Actions speak louder…”, by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (29 August 2017)
Plenty of people with power talk about helping others, but too many seem to be more talk than walk. CNN reporters Sonia Moghe and Kelly Smoot bring us a story of a business man and his family who are walking the talk in Hurricane Harvey. “David and Maria Parks sit for hours on a sofa, intently watching news footage of flooding in Houston. This couch is the only place they have left to go for now. The Parks and about 300 other evacuees are taking refuge in the 160,000-square-foot showroom of the Gallery Furniture store just outside of Houston. The store’s entrance is filled with neatly folded towels, shoes, clothes and toys donated by locals. Owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is known throughout the Houston area not only for his zany commercials but his
generosity. He tells CNN that he and his team took delivery trucks “that can get through the high water really easily” out to make rescues. ‘All day on Sunday we went around rescuing people out of high water stranded on overpasses. We brought about 200 people into the store that way,’ McIngvale says.” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/30/us/gallery-furniture-store-houston-shelter/index.html)
As painful as all tragedies and suffering are, they are often the best time to see others and ourselves for whatever is really inside. When life around us is sunshine and roses, it can be easy to greet our neighbors with a smile, ask how they’re doing, and maybe even offer something to a stranger out of our abundance. But when life around us is flooded with chaos and despair, many more often respond with self-preservation, even at others’ expense. Not always, though. There are “Mattress Mack”s.
Thankfully, most people (at least most Americans reading this) might never suffer a catastrophe like a hurricane, plague, or military coup devastating our immediate family and home. But most of us would agree that we need genuinely good Samaritans in our lives. We need true friends – and to be a true
friend – who will follow through with more than kind words. Such relationships are joys that will outlive temporary hopes of career, wealth, health, etc. So how can we tell who walks the walk of real love, and who just talks a good talk? Pretend you’re a creative news journalist, and try the following.
Turn off the volume. In other words, watch your family members, friends, neighbors, and associates from a distance so you can see their day-to-day lives but not hear their words. If there is real focus on others, kindness, help, etc., their actions, body language, and facial expressions will speak clearly.
Zoom in on the action. When their daily lives become nightmares on Main Street, how do they treat those who can’t help? Who helps, even when it hurts? Which are we under the eye of a hurricane? And how might we be transformed by our storms? We can rebuild the old or something truly new.
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