Love Because He First Loved You: Shaun Denney

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18

By Shaun Denney

A few months ago, I was at the church working with one of our Outreach ministries. It had been a long and busy day, and by the end of the night, I was completely exhausted. A few leaders were still in the building, cleaning up the ministry environment from the night’s work. As the last item was put away and the door was shut, we stepped out into the parking lot and began to say our goodbyes. In the middle of all the different farewells, the words, “Love you,” came out of my mouth. Awkward. Now, I do love my volunteers, and I would tell them that in a different context. But on this night, on this occasion, it was clear that I was speaking thoughtlessly, carelessly. I had forgotten where I was and who I was with!

In fact, this is an ongoing fear of mine. When I talk to co-workers, friends, and church members, I’m always thinking, “What if I accidentally close the conversation by saying, ‘I love you.’” I know – odd fear. Many of my phone conversations and personal interactions do end with this confession of love. Every time I see or speak with my wife, I tell her I love her. Every afternoon when I speak to my mom or dad, I tell them I love them. When I speak to my sister, I tell her I love her. I say this so many times in a day that it has become rote; it just slips out. So much so that I’m afraid I’m going to say it to someone who might not receive it so well!

After reading the apostle’s words in 1 John, I’m convicted. Words aren’t enough. Merely saying I love someone doesn’t prove that I do. My actions will tell the true story.

God didn’t just tell us that He loved us. He didn’t leave us with the potential for insecurity that we would have to force ourselves to believe it was true. He put His actions where His words were. He sent His only Son to the cross, to die, for you and me. This is real love–not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:10). God gave to the point that it hurt. He acted on behalf of those He loved in a sacrificial way.

Today, I’m not going to stop telling my wife I love her at the end of our conversations. She needs to hear that; so do I. But I’m going to offer her the security of words that are backed by actions. I’m going to ask myself today and every day, “What am I doing to show her (and the others in my life) that I do, in fact love them? How am I going to sacrifice and give of my life in such a way that she can rest secure in my love?”

In a world where love is so jaded, where men are taking advantage of women by their cunning words, it’s good to know we serve a God who is what He says. He not only talks of love, but He is love. I hope today, you can rest in His love. Let it change you. Let it move you to sacrificially love the people in your life. And be careful who you say, “I love you” too!

Spend some time in 1 John 3:11-4:21 today. Reflect on the love of God. Love someone today because He first loved you.