“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love…” (Eph 4:2)
Each year as Valentine’s Day approaches, thoughts turn to expressions of love. What does love mean to you? It means something different to me now that I’m – ahem – 40 than it did when I was 20. I’m in a different season of life and have had experiences that have reinforced some of my beliefs and caused me to question others.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my belief that love is an action. Perhaps that is because one of my core values is service. This shows up in many areas of my live. For example, I feel loved when someone does something for me that eases my burden. This could mean a friend lends a listening ear or brings me a bowl of soup when I’m sick. The reverse is also true. I am most comfortable expressing my love for others by doing things for them and one of the reasons I volunteer so much of my time.
Love is a noun, but it is also a verb. It is an emotion, but it is also an action. Love, when not followed up by action, seems hollow and empty – false, if you will. Love is a practical demonstration of helping our neighbors, even when we don’t feel like it. Love reserves judgment and minimizes criticism. Instead of finding fault with others, focus on the positive and provide encouragement to others in their circumstances. Offer to pray with those who are going through a difficult time – and then do it. Prayer doesn’t cost anything but time.
According to Paul, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom 12:9-10) When we place the needs of others above our own, we create closer relationships with them – and we draw closer to the Lord as well. This Valentine’s Day and each day after, we should remember that the sincere love Jesus felt for us led him to action as he died on the cross so that he could have a personal relationship with us. As we grow in faith, we can share that same love that moves us to action with those around us.
Dear Jesus, help us to look for ways to love others through our actions as well as our words. Amen.