LOVE IN DEED AND IN TRUTH
1 John 3:17-18 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
True love for God manifests itself in one's love for all mankind. Whether brothers and sisters in a universal sense, or brothers and sisters in the family of God, the church of Christ, deeds of love for one another are essential in order to demonstrate our love for our Heavenly Father. This commandment cannot be stated more conclusively than the author of this epistle. The seven verses that precede the lesson text establish and assure us of this godly teaching, the essence of which is captured in verse 11: For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. This was God's teaching in Deuteronomy 15:7-8. In Proverbs 19:17 we find these words of godly wisdom: He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again. Every talent and blessing one possesses comes from God, and God requires that we share them with others that are in need. From the richest and most blessed, to the poorest and most destitute, God has provided sufficient blessings to enable each to share them bountifully to those less fortunate. The same God that blesses us also assures us of sufficient opportunities to demonstrate our love to Him through deeds of kindness to others that are in need.
This being the truth of God's holy word, the apostle John then asks this rhetorical question: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Without the compassion that results in deeds of love toward others, the answer inferred in this question is that love for God does not exist within that person. God requires a Christian's love to be so strong that we would lay down our lives for the brethren (Vs. 16). This being God's law, is it then too much to ask Christians to share their physical blessings with those that are in need? Certainly these are much smaller deeds of compassion than giving one's life for another. These are the opportunities to do works of love that surround us daily; these are the small things that we can do to fill the needs of others; these are the cups of cold water (Matt. 10:42) given to those that are thirsty. These small deeds of kindness are just as necessary in the eyes of God as giving one's life for another.
These scriptures are sufficient proof that deeds of love must accompany faith in God to be acceptable in His sight. Faith alone is not sufficient. Neither is works without faith. Similar to the lesson text, James gave us this inspired teaching about the necessity of both faith and works. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works, can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 2:14-17). Where is the benefit, and likewise, where is the demonstration of brotherly love, if a person recognizes the need of others and does nothing to fill that need? Without compassion, ...how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. As in chapter 2, verses 1, 12, & 18, and chapter 3 verse 7, John refers to all Christians as little children. In the lesson text, John is teaching followers of Christ to demonstrate brotherly love in truthful works of kindness rather than by mere words that express sympathy and sorrow. John the baptizer taught this message with these parabolic words of godly wisdom. To the multitudes gathered around him he said every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Luke 3:9). When asked what this good fruit was, John the baptizer said, he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
These are the type deeds that demonstrate the love God has always required of His obedient children, whether during the Old or New Testament eras. God requires such acts of love of all that have a hope of eternal salvation. Paul wrote to Timothy, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Christian, love in deed and in truth!