Listening to a Christian radio station with a great message on loving God’s way a statement was made I had heard before but never really paid close attention to until now. The statement was, “practice active love”.
I, of course, began to self examine to understand what it truly means to “practice active love”. I realized the word “active” was actually giving the word “love” some redundancy. Here’s why I say this.
If you ask people what love is many will say it just is. There is no substance. You can’t see it, touch it, smell it, or even hear it. But it is. Others will say it is something you do to express how you feel about them. And still others will give quite a diverse description of the word and its meaning(s).
First of all, it is important to understand that love is an action word. It just isn’t a non-corporeal expression of feelings. It is something you do. To say “I love you” is to say “I am loving you”. Since love is an action word then active love is a double statement of an action.
Alright. Enough of the philosophizing.
The ten commandments, which were called the Law of God, were actually laws of love. When Jesus was asked which of the ten commandments was the greatest (Matthew 22:36) He answered:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
But Jesus did not stop answering there. He continued:
The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:39-40)
Verse 40 actually anchors what the ten commandments say to us. “All of the Law” refers to all ten of the commandments as well as any command God has or will give to us. His entire nature is one of love. Although many would argue that God is a God of vengeance, which is true only when He deems it necessary, He is in fact the One and only God who is love.
Take a closer look at the ten commandments and you will see a correlation to what Jesus said. The first three commands are about loving God. The other seven commands are about loving others. Read them for yourself and you will see this is true. Therefore, the ten commandments are the Law of love towards God and others.
These commandments teach us how we are to love God and how we are to love one another. In order to obey these commands we must do what they command. This means action.
All too often we become complacent in our lives and take the things we do and say for granted. We don’t always think about what we are going to say or do. My dad always had a number of sayings he quoted to me over and over throughout my growing days. One was to “look before you leap”. This simply means we need to be conscientious about what we are going to do or say. Be aware of the consequences of our actions and words.
Another famous quote of my dad’s was, “actions speak louder than words”. This is not a biblical quote but perhaps it should be. And in reading proverbs I find many come very close to stating this.
I recall a man who was talking about people loving him by using the phrase, “I am going to tell you this in love.” You may have heard this or had someone say it too you. His comment on this was, “If someone is going to love me I will know it. And if they don’t, I will know that too.”
You can say you love someone, but it will be your actions that truly tell if you love or not.
This was part of the hypocrisy Jesus spoke of when he called out the leaders of the church as hypocrites. If they had understood the Law of God they would have been practicing love instead of looking down their pious noses and judging everyone else according to their beliefs.
So, again, what is active love? I believe that this statement is meant to wake us up to the fact that we need to be actively seeking to love others. I find myself a victim of failure in this many times. I easily go through my day and just accept people for what they do and say and get mad when whatever they do or say is contrary to my belief system. It’s okay to get mad but it is not okay to show it in a way that is not loving.
A young lady was describing an issue where she had her children at the movie theater and she was whispering to them for various reasons when an older man in front of them turned around and bluntly asked her to be quiet. She tried to explain she was being as quiet as possible but hat to talk to her children. Suddenly the spouse of the man turned around and snapped at her with some other comment about being quiet. The young lady had an angry response ready at her lips but held back thinking about how she was representing God’s love and was too convicted of the love she needed to display to open her mouth towards them. Now that is active love.
Thinking about God’s love for us and how He wants us to love others is a powerful tool in loving others. I have always had a bitter and angry outlook towards others but I have to continuously fight against my urges to respond in unloving ways. I have to practice actively love others by submitting to God’s will and denying myself. After all, isn’t that what Jesus was talking about when He told us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him?
Blessings to you and yours. Amen.