1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
You know what is so obnoxious? Flattery. It really does make me nauseous at times. It’s not horrible to hear people say nice things about you, but flattery is when people are saying nice things about you with an ulterior motive. And quite frankly, flattery isn’t going to get you anywhere. Now just because someone compliments you doesn’t mean that they have other motives. People might genuinely appreciate you or think you look nice today and really mean it.
As the church, we can get pretty good and saying nice things to each other. Here in 1 John 3:18 we are being told how we should show love to each other. I think as a guy I can really appreciate the advice given here in this verse. Guys after all have a hard time saying “I love you” anyways. They have to put extra words on it so they don’t sound all wimpy. For example, you will rarely see two grown men at a church service giving each other a nice big hug, looking at each other in the eyes, and saying “I love you.” No, in fact please don’t do that – it will make us all uncomfortable. Rather guys do the guyshake/hug combo (that’s when you shake hands and bring it in for a quick shoulder touch), or give the regular hug with the tap, tap on the back (the tap, tap subtly saying, “dude, I’m done with this hug now”). This is followed by kind words. If the words, “I love you” are uttered, they must be followed by additional words such as bro, man, or dude. Oh and you should actually drop the word “I” because that gets a little personal. So you put that all together and you get a handshake, shoulder bump, and a ” love you, bro.” That’s just how it works.
But you know what would be even better and what I think guys would like even more? Showing love through action and truth. Let’s start with the action part. You could show someone love by showing up and helping them fix their fence. That’s action. You could show them love by serving them, giving them your time and energy. Unspoken love. The second way would be through truth. That would look like honoring your word. Did you say you were going to be there? Be there. Did you say you would call? Call. Did you offer to loan something for free? Then don’t charge for it. Be a person of your word.
Now that’s love. That is what John is talking about. We can go all day long saying nice things to people. We can tell our wives that we love them. We can tell our kids that they are the most important people in the world to us. But until we show it with action and truth, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Until we let love move past our mouth and into our whole being, we are at risk of flattering but showing no love at all.