Article: Love: An Action or Emotion? | Jacob Varghese

Let me start with an incident. A woman was surprised at church one day when another woman, who had often snubbed her, came out of her way to give her a big hug before the service. She wondered what had initiated her change of heart. She got her answer at the end of the service when the pastor initiated the church, “Your assignment for next week is the same as last week. I want you all to go out after the church service and love somebody you just can’t stand”. If loving others were only as easy as giving a hug to someone you don’t like, we all could excel in love. Just hug them and move on! NO, love is a bit more difficult than that! It requires continual effort, because at the heart of loving others is putting the other person ahead of yourself, and that is always a huge battle. 1 John chapter 3: verse 18 says, let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show our love in truth by our actions.

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Once a group of Sunday school children were asked by the teacher, “What does love mean?” Here are some of their answers:
One said “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”
Another child said “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.”
Yet another child said “I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones for her.”
It’s important to remember that love is primarily an action word in the Bible, not an emotion. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

The love about which the Bible speaks is different from every other type of human love, and is uniquely imparted to the child of God, from the indwelling Spirit of truth and love. For this reason, the New Testament as a whole and the apostle John in his writings never tire of exhorting us to love one another. John 13:34-35 we see Jesus saying “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When Jesus announced that He would be leaving, He gave one very simple and profound instruction: “Love one another.”This is harder than it seems. We are prone to argue, hate, and fight. We default to selfishness and wanting to win. Love doesn’t naturally fit,but we crave it. And love is the mark of Jesus’ followers. Jesus asked His disciples to practice the love that He modeled. As children of God, ifwe reflect the example of Jesus’ love through our actions, we would stand out in a world that does not understand love. Jesus explained, “By this, all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. The distinguishing mark of Jesus’ followers is how love influences our daily actions: how we work alongside our coworkers, how we solve problems, how we speak to spouses and children, how we work out problems with our church members. As Jesus’ followers we are supposed to live differently, demonstrating love consistently toward others. Jesus kept it simple. He taught and demonstrated that love is an action. 1 John 4:11&12 say dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

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Bible teaches us many beautiful ways how we can live with love and show that in action.
Serve one another. The Lord modeled this when He washed His disciples’ feet. We all know Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. Why did Jesus wash his disciples’ feet? It was just a practical illustration for all of us that Jesus came to serve. It was an exemplary act, which was made by Jesus. Can we imagine even touching the feet of someone one, forget about washing? But this is what our master taught us. Be patient with one another.Isn’t it difficult that, even when we are surrounded by fellow believers, “bearing with one another” is still so hard? Patience is not something that comes naturally to most of us. But we can increase patience in our hearts by turning to God’s word, and remembering his supreme patience. This is possible only because of the Spirit’s presence in us. Patience in the midst of frustration and trial is one of the most shining examples of biblical love. Colossians 3:12-13 say therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Forgive one another because God forgave us. Matthew 6:15 says, but if you do not forgive others their sins God will not forgive your sins.So do not withhold forgiveness. When we are hurt, it is tempting to nurture bitterness in our hearts, even long after apologies have been exchanged and it may lead us to even break off relationships but true forgiveness sets us free and brings us closer to the Lord. According to Mark 11:25, forgiving others is an act of emulating God. God forgives our sins freely. Christ offered his friendship to Zacchaeus even before he repented for his sin. He promised eternal life to the thief on the cross, who no longer had a chance to try and live a righteous life. James 5:16 tells therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

Psalm 34:18 says the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we see Jesus refused to brush aside the broken hearted, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, the children and the women. Jesus blessed such people and worked alongside with them. So we need to emulate the love and care Christ showed them. Learning from Jesus’ example we can remember to be kind and lift up the broken, enlarge the small, and favor the week and those who are socially disadvantaged. We need to becourteous to one another. Even if someone is difficult or disagreeable, treat them with gentleness and love.In 1 Timothy 4:12 it says set an example for one another in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.We are not to judge one another. That is the Lord’s job. Matthew 7:1&2 say “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. We may be called to rebuke or reprove in love, but we are not to judge. We need to be subject one to another.Ephesians 5:21sayssubmit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That will mean not always having things our way. We need to edify one another.1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we are to encourage and build each other up. In the same way, prayer is essential in showing our love in action.Pray for one another. What a privilege to come before the Lord on another’s behalf. Ephesians 6:18 says pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open to understand the needs of others. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

The next point by which we can express our love in action is by being generous. There are two aspects of generosity. First, and the one that comes to mind for many of us when we hear the command “to give,” is the material sense. But generosity isn’t just about money and material things. If we follow the example of Christ and other biblical heroes, we learn that being generous means living with others-centered, self-sacrificing life. It means living with kindness, encouraging others, and offering our good works to one another. 2 Corinthians 9:11 says you will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. James 2:15 tells us suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? Is this way we express our love? Don’t you think we need to show our love in action? Living a life of truth is, perhaps, one of the most concrete ways to show God’s love to those around us. But that requires more than just honesty: it means keeping our word. Keeping promises is so important for Christians because we serve a God of truth and love. Our consistency in this matter not only shows our respect for truth, but it serves those around us by building trust in relationships. It takes a true act of love to consider our words and actions so deeply before we choose to speak. Psalm 89:34 says I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Yes it is a resolution every godly man and woman should strive to keep.
When we talk about love in action, there is a wonderful example in the New Testament the parable of the Good Samaritan. InLuke 10:25-37 Jesus spoke about the Good Samaritan.It is about a traveler who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road by robbers. First a Priest and then a Levite comes by, but both passed by avoid the man as if they don’t care. But finally, a Samaritan happens to go that way and responded to the injured traveler with kindness and mercy. Samaritans and Jews despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to the question from a lawyer, “And who is my neighbor?”. In response, Jesus tells the parable, the conclusion of which is that the neighbor figure in the parable is the man who shows mercy to the injured man—that is, the Samaritan. Here is a classic example that Jesus gave to show the importance of “Love your neighbor as yourself”. In verse 37 we read Jesussaid to him, “Go and do likewise.” What is God expect from His children? God expects that we respond to people in need with mercy, love and kindness. If you and I have to follow Jesus in His footsteps, the most important thing is to listen to what Jesus said and here is one clear cut instruction that Jesus gave. He said go and do likewise. What should we do? We must show mercy, love and kindness to those who are in need.

When we enter into any relationship, do not enter into it with an expectation of receiving love, kindness that we would be treated so well but we need to enter any relation with the intention of not to receive love but to give love. If we show love, serve; be there to help, to support and to be kind or to be able to understand the other person better. When we have this perspective of showing love in action rather than receiving love, we will definitely be a very happy person because whatever we give we will get back. If we keep serving we will also be served. If we show kindness, everybody around will also show kindness to us. If we start loving everybody around us and not hate anyone, what will we get in return; we will also receive love in return. Jesus wants us to serve. Jesus said the son of man came into this world not to be served but to serve. 1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
John summarizes the need for Christians to act in love, not just think about it. It is important to communicate love through our words, but we must also do so through our actions. Jesus not only spoke about love, He provided powerful actions to match His teachings. John 13 offers a clear example in which Jesus washed the feet of His disciples to teach them to serve one another in humility. His death on the cross offered the most powerful evidence of love “in action and in truth.” He endured suffering, ridicule, and death from those who should have recognized Him as the Messiah. Yet His actions also included His resurrection offering love in action that changed the course of history. A godly character that reflects the likeness of Christ is the one that loves others as Christ loved us.
Today as we are challenged by God’s word, how are we going to show God’s love through our action? Are we going to serve one another, be patient with others, forgive others as God forgave us, be courteous to others, not to judge anyone, set an example for others, be subject to one another, to edify one another, to be generous to others, keep our promises and to pray for one another. There is a great man of God named C.T.Studd. He said like this “only one life, it will soon be passed but only what is done for Christ will last”. The time we spent for sharing God’s love, serving God, showing kindness will count for eternity. Only what is done for Christ will matter. But more than our actions our attitude is important. Good actions with a good attitude are very important. People may look at our actions but God looks at our attitude and our motives. So let us show God’s love in action with right attitude. When we love, when we give, when we show kindness we look like Jesus, is n’t it? So when we show anger, yelling at someone or doing any such crazy things, whom do we represent? We resemble God when we show God’s qualities in our life. So let us be rich in good works showing God’s love in our action

JACOB VARGHESE

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