Talk is cheap.
You’ve heard it a thousand times, yet it seemingly is so hard to grasp. What I learned as a communication arts student in college is something that I’ve seen reinforced in my ministry over and over again: What you say is as important as how you say it.
If I say, “I love you” to my wife, but say it with a weird tone, do you think she’ll believe me?
Or how about if I say it and then turn around and do something stupid or mean? How about then?
There are so many great truths in this passage of scripture, but if I had to pick one that stands out to me as I read it right now, it’s verse 18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Christians really struggle with this one.
On the one hand, we consistently rank as the most generous on earth. When Katrina hit and our church sent a team to Louisiana, a person pulled aside the pastor and told him, “It doesn’t get much press, but you need to know that we thank you. It’s the Church that is rebuilding our city.” What a great testimony.
But we can screw it up at times as well. Pastors burn Korans and churches protest funerals. But I’d argue that they don’t speak for the Church. In my view, they are the antitheses of the Gospel.
Yet even Gospel-centered churches get it wrong. We say we love each other, but then we gossip about one other. We say we love each other, but then we harbor hate…something verse 15 says is akin to murder. We say we love our communities, but then spend an exponentially larger proportion of our resources on our church buildings and programs to keep churched people happy (verse 17).
The world looks skeptically on the church. Let’s not give them a reason to do so. People should be overwhelmed by the love we show…first to each other and then to the world.
What’s the key? Verse 24 reminds us that it’s the Holy Spirit! A heart for Jesus results in the heart of the Holy Spirit living within us…which results in a heart for others.
Talk is cheap. Let’s LIVE our faith.