Friday, February 25, 2005

Love unexpressed

I was listening to a talk show recently where the discussion was centered on patriotism and love of country. Most were calling in talking about their appreciation for the freedoms they have in America. One person called in to say that, although he considered himself patriotic and felt that he loved his country, he didn't feel the need to express it.

Dennis Prager, the normally mild mannered, intellectual talk show host and author, lost his cool. "What do you mean you love this country, but don't feel the need to express it? Love unexpressed is not love! Can you love your kids without ever expressing it?"

Instantly, I realized that he'd hit on a profound truth from Scripture. Love unexpressed is not really love. The apostle of love wrote pointedly about this:

    1 John 3:16-18 - By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

    My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (NKJV)

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us. How profound is that? We would have no way of knowing about Jesus' love for us unless He expressed it by laying down His life for us. Since He did, we are drawn to express that love to our brothers.

Apply this to our relationships with our brothers. They can only know our love for them if we express it. In fact, if our love for our brother goes unexpressed in the face of a need, how in the world can we say the love of God is in us? And if this is said of physical needs, how much more applicable is it when we express our love for them to help their spiritual needs? Shouldn't this include edifying them by word, by song, and by example? And how can we do this if we insist on isolating ourselves from them?

It seems to me that if we say we love the brotherhood, but willfully isolate ourselves from them, we are loving in word, but not in deed and in truth. It is love unexpressed, merely an intellectual assent that we've sterilized and put on the shelf to look at. We can do better than that, and I'm encouraged in my deep belief that we will.

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