Have you ever read anything about love languages, or spent some time figuring out how you prefer to receive love? When my husband and I were going through our pre-marital counseling we took a test to see what our love languages were. Over the past fourteen years of marriage I can assure you, the results were very correct. And very opposite.
I am a “gifts” and “words of affirmation” gal, while he is “physical touch” and “acts of service.” He watches in wonder as I make birthdays and gift-giving holidays come to life, while I sit back in amazement as he and our daughter snuggle up together constantly. A task like emptying the dishwasher is, for me, simply something that needs to get done. Taking out the trash or coming home to a clean kitchen is, for him, an act of love.
Our eight-year-old daughter seems to lean toward “quality time” as her main love language and she will tell us, repeatedly, how much fun she’s having when the three of us do something new or fun together. Loving other people well means using more than just our words, but our actions and imitating the love of our amazing God who knows how to love us perfectly.
Our verses today in 1 John remind us that we love not only by the words we say, but by our actions and the truth we believe. John is writing this letter to call believers back to the basics of faith. His focus is truth, not opinion, and he points his reader back to the most important commandment that Jesus gave to us: love God and love others.
John addresses his audience as “little children,” a phrase he uses seven times in his letter. It’s not meant to be demeaning, but affectionate and reminiscent of the upside down kingdom of God where what is low becomes raised up. In Luke 10:21 Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit that God hides things from the wise and reveals it to little children. In Mark 10:14 Jesus encourages his disciples to allow the little children to come to Him, for the kingdom of God belongs to them. John writes with the tenderness and truth of a father to his children, or a pastor to his congregation.
When we have surrendered our lives to Christ, believing He alone is the Savior for the world, we are able to live in obedience to Him. As we become grounded in our faith, our desire to please Him and follow His commands flows out of our love for Him. When we recognize His love for us, we are able to love and care for fellow believers and the world around us. Faith in Christ, obedience to His commands, and love for others are all central aspects of our walk with Christ. Our assurance comes as we grow closer to Him and continually surrender our lives and hearts to Him.
They will know we are Christians by our love. A love that isn’t limited by love languages or personality tests, but comes from the overflow of a heart that abides closely with Jesus. When we put our faith into action through our obedience to God, the result is love. We love because He first loved us, and when we imitate God’s example we can love others well, drawing them into a deeper relationship with the One who loved us when we were still an unlovely mess.