17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:17-18)
Have you ever heard the expression “talk is cheap?” Have you ever used this expression? If so, what exactly does it mean when a person says “talk is cheap?”
The phrase talk is cheap means it is easier to talk about doing something than to actually do that thing. Many people say they will do something but never do it. Or many people may say that something should be done but they never envision themselves as the individuals by which that something could and should be done.
This attitude and inaction may happen anywhere and everywhere. It can happen at home, school, work and even in volunteer organizations such as the church. It can happen among members of a sports team. The true leader is one who does not necessarily talk about leading, but rather displays it by working hard, showing up early, being the last to leave, and being a positive example.
By the same token, another contrasting idiom is “Actions speak louder than words.” This means that people’s actions show their real attitudes, rather than what they say. This expression is sometimes used to advise a person to do something positive.
This is the essential meaning behind the Apostle John’s comments in I John 3:17-18. John once again used another cause and effect statement to bring this principle of action vs. inaction in Christian living to light.
“But if anyone has the world’s goods” refers to possessions or resources. We all have them, perhaps some more than others. It includes clothes, food, vehicles, tools, etc. These are the goods we own.
The principle John set forth was if a believer in Christ has possessions and sees a brother in Christ in need of one such possession but does nothing to help the fellow believer, that former individual does not have the self-sacrificial love of God within their soul. Remember, that John often speaks in black and white terms. He gives no room for the grey areas of life or extenuating circumstances. You are either into holy living or you are not because you are either a truly converted believer in Christ or you only pretend to be.
The principle John explicitly set forth is found in I John 3:18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” For the apostle, deed and truth is more important that words or talk.
Recently, my boss experienced car problems with his brakes. He needed to take his Honda Accord to the local Honda dealership. However, this left him without a car to drive to work. When He spoke to me about the problem, the Lord prompted me to offer him the use of my SUV until he got his car back. He was surprised and did not know what to say, but he gratefully accepted my offer.
Well, the situation lasted about a week but my boss’ car was finally repaired and my vehicle returned to me, with a full tank of gas I might add. It turned out to be a good resolution to his problem and an opportunity for me to show the love of Christ and not just speak of it. I pray that it made an impact upon him.
I do not share this story to praise myself, but rather to illustrate that each of us can do something in order to help someone we know when they are in need. To be certain, we need to have discernment and good wisdom, but we also need to be willing to risk the loss or put up with the inconvenience in order to help a friend or a fellow believer.
How may you love in deed and truth today, and not just in word or talk?
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!