0213 Love is an action word
Jeff Greer, Pastor at Riverchase Baptist Church
The popular observance of Valentine’s Day dates back as far as the 14th Century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the Canterbury Tales) attached romantic love to the legend of Saint Valentinus of Rome. There is no doubt that Saint Valentinus lived in Rome around the time of 270 AD. His reputation involving love was gained because he reportedly performed weddings for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for assisting Christians during a time of Roman persecution.
By the 1400s the general public began to show their love by sending handmade cards, flowers or candy to loved ones. We have carried on that tradition to this day, and by some estimation, some one billion Valentines are sent to loved ones around the “holiday.” Some people have described Valentine’s Day as a “Hallmark Holiday” since the card maker stands to reap the biggest financial gains from observance.
But in a world where we toss around the word “love” so easily, I was hoping to get back to a better understanding of what it means to love someone. The Bible has so many rich and meaningful passages that speak about love – the first of which comes to mind is the “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. I have used the verses from this chapter so many times in weddings because the true essence of love is reflected so eloquently in them. Other popular passages that speak about love are found in the story of Ruth and Naomi and in the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 22 when he speaks about the greatest commandment.
But I would like to focus on the exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 21. Three times Jesus asks Peter this question: “Do you love me?” Three times Peter says that he does. And three times Jesus says this: “Feed my sheep.” What does this exchange have to teach us about love in the 21st Century?
The fundamental truth of this conversation teaches us that love requires action! We are too often taught that love is only a feeling, an emotion. Love is a sentiment that we express toward someone else. We confuse love with affection, sympathy or feelings of romance. But what my experience and the Bible have taught me is that love is an action word. Love is what we do.
Over and over again in scripture we see this communicated: love your neighbor, no greater love exists than when someone lays down their life and feed my sheep. If we say we love God, we are required to obey and serve him. We put love into action. If we say we love others, we are required to serve them and put their needs before our own. We act on that love!
It is not enough to say the words, “I love you.” Those words mean only as much as the actions that back them up. This month, let your love speak loudly in and through your actions. Don’t talk about love as much as you live love. Show your love by for God by serving him. Show your love for others by doing the same. Make this month more than just a “Hallmark Holiday.”