The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

“Love not in words, with the tongue, but in deed and in truth” (PDF) PDF version

“Love not in words, with the tongue, but in deed and in truth”

Paul, starting from the 8th chapter of II Corinthians, makes a reference that extents up to the 9th chapter, to the material contributions to the saints. There, in verses seven and eight of the 8th chapter , and after he has already made mention of the example of the Macedonians that: "in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality", he turns to the Corinthians and tells them:

II Corinthians 8:7-8
"But as you abound in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us - see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others."

It was the last part of verse 8 that drew my attention. Whether the Corinthians would show diligence, earnestness, interest for others and their needs, would show also the genuine of their love. And this is the measure of the genuine of our love: the interest for others. Not simply the interest in words but also the interest that is realised in action; the interest that would make us with joy to accept to take something from ourselves and give it where there is a bigger need. As Paul again says:

II Corinthians 8:9
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."

And as Philippians 2:5-8 also says:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."

Jesus Christ whose mind we are called to have, humbled Himself and went even to the cross. This He did only because He loved us. As the Word of God says in Ephesians 3:19, "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge" Jesus Christ loves us with genuine love that passes knowledge. This love, this mind, we are called by God’s Word to follow as well, loving in the same way one another. For, as James asks:

James 2:15-16
"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"

"You don’t have to eat….. Never mind my brother….. God bless you". Usually it is we the means through whom the Lord passes His blessing to the others, and if we don’t have genuine love then even if we say nice words, "what does it profit"? Also as John in I John 3:16-18 says:

I John 3:16-17
"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?"

We knew the love of the Lord not because we read nice words, but because these words were made acts – His love was manifested by giving Himself for us. In the opposite side of this example we have the brother who though he has the material ability he does not want to help. "Shuts up his heart from him" says the Word, choosing not to show mercy. In this case however, "how does the love of God abide in him?" With two questions the Word leaves no place for misunderstandings and illusions: "what does it profit?" says James. "How does the love of God abide in him?" asks John, to conclude a verse later:

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

and again  

I John 4:12
"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us."

It is the interest, the diligence for others that shows the genuine of our love. Love that when it is needed, is not realized in actions is not genuine love. And such "love" is not the love that we are called to have. Our love should be "not in words, with the tongue, but in deed and in truth".

Anastasios Kioulachoglou