“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off him compassion from him–how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, me must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:16
God loved me in deed. He didn’t just sit and heaven and spout pretty words at me. Nor did he just hang out on his throne and feel tender toward me. He did something. He stepped out of the splendor of heaven, strapped on some first-century sandals, and chose a torturous death to become the sacrifice for my sin – just so I’d have a way to him, a way to receive his love.
And he asks me to love those around me the same way.
It’s pretty easy to think about acting out my love to my children or my husband. I cook, clean, comfort, help with homework, drive to endless basketball practices. I love them in deed. Why? Because I have oceans of loving feelings for them. I enjoy them. They love me back.
Ditto for my fun, giving friends. Easy to feel love. Easy to act on it.
But what of the people I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about? Take, for example, women who are struggling in poverty’s clutches or chained by addictions. They’ve got emotional issues springing from abuses I can’t even imagine. They’re overly needy. Clingy. I am to love them in deed. I am to do something about it. Take them to lunch. Give them a ride. Listen to their hearts. Love them, when I receive nothing from them in return. Love them when it doesn’t feel fun.
Or … my enemies? I’m supposed to love them the same way. I may not be able to muster a single happy feeling toward them, but I am to act out love. Patience. Kindness. Not holding a grudge. These things are not feelings. They are deeds.
God passionately loves me, and believing that gives me wholeness. It gives me peace. But my emotional well-being isn’t God’s only goal in loving me. He commands me to take my full cup and pass it on to the people around me, lovely or not.