“Let us love in deed and truth”
Apostle John’s Epistle underscores the close relationship between the first great commandment – love of God, and the second – love of others. Words, thoughts and feelings are of lesser importance. Rather ACTS of love and mercy are the hard evidence of faith in God. It is with this background that St John advises his flock: “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). tongue, but in deed and truth”
Love is the fundamental and determining characteristic of Christianity. Our Lord Jesus is the ultimate example of love – he came to earth to serve, to teach and ultimately give his life out of love. So St John reprimands those who say they love others, but when it comes down to practical sacrifices, don’t do them. That’s what he means by loving “in word and tongue.” It’s not real. Deeds of sacrifice validate words of love. Love MUST take ACTION. It is the deeds in our life that materialise our love and make it real.
In fact, our Christian identity is proven when we put our love into action, as Christ himself tells us: “by this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another (John 13:35). Christian deeds of love involve giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return. In this way we mimic God’s pure love, and not the self-interested love of the world. St Paisios explains: “For our love to be genuine, we must purify it; we must take our self out of our love”. Furthermore, deeds of pure love require self-sacrifice. “
Christianity has value when it costs us” writes Father Epiphanios in the well -known Counsels for Life. Is it costing us? Are we paying a price? Are we willing to help at home after a long day of work or school? Do we go above and beyond the job we’ve been asked to do out of love for our mother or father or wife or husband? Do we give up our time when we are busy to help someone else? Do we get involved in volunteer or charitable work even when we have such busy lives? Our Lord says: “When someone compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt 5:41). St Kosmas Aitolos is crystal-clear in his direction to us modern Christians: “The Martyrs won Paradise through their blood; the Ascetics, through their ascetic life.
Now you, my brethren, who have children, how will you win Paradise? By means of hospitality, by giving to your brothers who are poor, blind, or lame.” Loving in deed means loving through generosity and hospitality. St John’s words speak to us today personally just as they did to the Christians of the early Church. We all know the truth of the old saying: “actions speak louder than words”. At the final judgment, no matter how many good intentions we had in our life, the only thing that will count will be the actions we performed towards others and before God himself: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me”… Assuredly I say to you in as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me” (Matt 25:35-36, 40)
This year may we all strive to love in deed and in truth – cultivating pure and genuine love for God and all people – so that we too, with God’s grace may hear at the final day: “Come, all you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34).
Source: Lychnos February / March 2017