My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. (I John 3:18-20 MSG)
As a matter of fact, John goes a step further and reveals the "means" by which we can evaluate if we are really living in the reality of being kids of the King - by putting love into action! So, it is more than just "action" - it a "measuring stick" by which we can determine if the reality of a life change has occurred. You see, self-centered individuals put love into action, but the action is directed toward themselves! Christ-centered individuals put love into action in such a way which reveals Christ to the world.
Maybe one of the most important things John points out in this passage is the ability for the practice of love "shutting down" our own self-criticism. What's more, John reminds us of the debilitating effect of our self-criticism. Now, I don't think there is probably a person reading this who has overcome all aspects of self-criticism. In fact, if we were painfully honest, we'd admit we often struggle with being a little hard on ourselves on some of the same issues over and over again, right? John points out we can shut this type of "impractical" self-talk down - with the practice of love in our lives.
The crux of the passage is the very last sentence: God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. This truth has the ability to be eye-opening to us if we give it a chance. Let's break it down a little, shall we? First, God is greater. We don't even need the rest of the passage - God is greater is more than sufficient to shut down ALL of our self-criticism. For example, when I worry about how I must appear when I say something which was foolish and self-centered, I recall that indeed "God is greater" than any of my foolishness and self-centered actions! Now, if that doesn't put things into perspective, I don't know what will! God is greater - not just bigger, but greater. He is our "more than enough" - more than enough in our failures, more than enough in our deficiencies, and more than enough even when success might build up our egos a bit.
Next, our worried hearts are best handled by the one who settles the storms. God is greater than our worried hearts - this speaks more than most of us realize. You see, we torment ourselves with all kinds of disturbing thoughts, don't we? John's reminder to us is simply that God is greater than any mountain of disturbing thoughts we could muster up! All the things which "harass" us with continual "nipping at our heels" - those little and big things which we tend to muddle over time and time again - are not outside of his care. We just need to place them squarely into his care! God is greater - but he wants us to realize those worries are best placed into his hands in the first place.
Definitely, the most settling thing about this passage is the final thought: God knows more about us than we do ourselves. Now, that might seem a little hard to believe - another knowing more about us than we do ourselves, but the fact is, the Creator knows the creation best! This should give us some sense of hope - the Creator knows exactly how we were created and he is able to put in order anything which may have become a little "disordered" in our lives through the influence of sin, the self-destruction of various behaviors, or the misguidance of another.
God is greater - greater than _______. You fill in the blank. Nothing could fit into that "blank" which God is not sufficient (more than enough) to overcome, fix, or put out of the way in our lives. Love in action is to realize the most important relationship we can maintain is that which centers us squarely on the one who is "more than enough" to overcome all our worries. We often think we are the ones doing the "loving" in our lives, but until God does the "living" in our lives, all the "loving" which comes out of our lives falls short of what the Creator really designed. Just sayin!