1 John 4:19-21
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Love may be the ultimate example of actions speaking louder than words. It’s so easy to talk about who we love or what we love, but we often fall short of turning our words into actions that fulfill the essence of love. John tells us that loving God must include showing love to other people, especially other believers. We can express love for God through worship and devotional practices. We can talk about how much we love God. We can feel deep in our hearts a love for God that is both spiritual and emotional. But if we don’t turn those loving feelings into action, it’s as though they aren’t real. The acts of love God wants from us involve showing compassion, kindness and mercy to the people around us. We love God by loving others.
Several years ago, the church I served in Massachusetts was nearly struck by a tornado. It literally cut across the church parking lot, destroying homes in the surrounding neighborhood and leaving a 37 mile path of destruction across several towns. The following Sunday, our congregation chose to deliver food and help neighbors clean up their property instead of holding our usual worship service. The truth is, we worshiped God that day by showing love to people through actions of service and compassion. Instead of singing songs, we raked yards. Instead of listening to a sermon, we hauled debris to the curb. Instead of sharing fellowship inside the church, we took God’s love into the neighborhood. I believe God felt loved that day.
Of course, we don’t always get it right in the church. Sometimes we sing beautiful worship songs but then walk away from a brother or sister in need. Sometimes we preach about the Good News but then criticize someone behind their back. Sometimes we talk about loving God but then don’t love one another. These verses remind us that our actions toward others should reflect our feelings toward God, and if we can live by that standard more and more, the church will radiate more of God’s light and goodness into this world of need.
Father, You are loving, kind and good. Forgive me for not loving others as I should. Help me to follow Jesus’ example of self-giving love and to love You by loving the people around me. I ask this for Jesus’ glory and in His name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian