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How much harder...

Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. (1 John 3:18 TLB)  Just how hard is it to love someone? If we are really honest here, it is much harder than just saying we love them, right? In fact, it is quite easy to say those words at times, and in the back of our mind we are really saying, "You have no idea how much everything has been getting on my nerves lately," or maybe "I do love you, but I have no time to really show you that love right now." It is much harder to show we love someone than it is to speak the words. We mask our true feelings many times with those three words - they are like a bandage we can apply that will actually mean very little to the other person because they are just words spoken into the air. Words mean very little if the corresponding actions are not there to back them up!

I think this is why the Apostle Paul penned the words of I Corinthians 13 - to help us see that words were insufficient when it comes to really connecting others with the love of Christ. The ideas expressed in that chapter aren't just 'good stuff' - they are life choices that are backed by life actions that express life changes taking place within us. When the words, "love is patient" or "love is kind" are spoken, what does this say about you? It should say the life of Jesus within has impacted the way we respond and react to each other. The action of being patient isn't all that simple, is it? Go ahead, explain what patience really looks like. It is action based, isn't it? It is refraining from speaking while the other person has a chance to really begin to share what is on their heart. Yet, it is more than not speaking...it is actively listening without prejudging what the other person will say. It is hearing what is behind the expressed words. It is seeing their eyes, feeling their touch, and even tuning in when they are struggling to make sense of the words they want to say, but are having a hard time getting out. 

Love is action-based. If there were no actions behind those words, they would be said to be shallow and often might be viewed as insincere or meaningless. I think Jesus illustrates this for us in so many different ways. His words were never without action of some kind. His love was always evident in the actions that accompanied the words...so a connection would be made. How is your love evident to those in your inner circle? Or to those in the fringes of your circle today? Maybe it won't look the same, but it should be evident regardless of the place someone has in your 'circle'. There should be a connection made. To be truthful here, our passage betrays a pretty common practice on our parts...we say, but we don't follow up with the action. We are not alone in this mess, my friends. Most of us struggle with this.

This is why we need the Holy Spirit in our lives...because we need help aligning our words with our actions. This doesn't just apply to being obedient to the rules and regulations we sometimes associate with the "have to's" in life...it applies to being the best examples of God's love someone in our circle may ever see! Let that one sober you up a little - it did me! We could just be the best example of God's love that person will ever experience in their lifetime. Our actions can help that individual make a connection with Jesus that they would never have made on their own. Don't settle for merely saying the words. Find ways to reveal a little of Jesus ... that goes much deeper than the words every time ... it touches the heart and Jesus is always most concerned about the heart, isn't he? Just sayin!

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