Walk the Walk of Love
6th Sunday in Easter
Walk the Walk of Love
Text: 1 John 3:13-18
Back when I was around 10 or 11 and in grade school, I went to a basketball camp at a nearby elementary school. This was usually how I spent my summers. Every week I moved from one sports camp to the next throughout the summer. But this one particular basketball camp was very special. Mike Deane, the head basketball coach from Marquette University came by to address the campers. As avid basketball fans who were still in grade school, this was a big deal. We could hardly take the excitement when he brought a free Marquette basketball for each of us. Then, he put himself right up there with Santa Claus as he even gave to every one of us a free tee shirt! It was a Marquette University basketball tee shirt. The main motto on the back of it was, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”
That’s a popular catchphrase when it comes to sports. You might think you are really good. You might think your team is the best. You might even trash talk with other athletes and taunt them with your fancy slam dunks or touchdown dances. Sure, you can talk the talk. But can you walk the walk? In the sports world that means, “Let me see some results.” Don’t just say how good you are. Show how good you are by winning MVPs and championships. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
Interestingly, God has a similar message for us in his Word. It’s one thing to say that you are a Christian. It’s one thing to say that you love God or that you love other people. You can talk the talk. But God commands us today to Walk the Walk of Love.
The apostle John sets the tone for this section of Scripture right away in the second sentence of verse 14. There he says, “Anyone who does not love remains in death.” If you don’t love, if you don’t show love, if you don’t remain in a constant state of loving others, then God says you have nothing to do with life. If you do not love, you remain in death. If you do not love it is like you are spiritually dead. If you do not love you will physically die. If you do not love you will eternally die in hell. “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
Perhaps this gives you an inkling of patting yourself on the back. “Well I’m loving. I love my wife/my husband. I love my children. I love my family and friends. I love the family that lives next door. I say ‘Love you’ when I hang up the phone with friends and family. I’m a pretty loving person.”
That might be true. Most of you I know to be very loving and caring people. But do you love the way God wants you to love? That is the real question. Here’s what God has to say about love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
So you can say that you love God, but that is not enough. If you say that you love God but then skip worship for every dinner party, sporting event, recreational activity, or opportunity for rest available, are you really loving God the way that he wants? If we say that we love God but give more to McDonald’s or Dominos or Brighthouse per month than we give to God, are we loving him the way he wants? If we say that we love God and that he means everything to us but never tell anyone about him, are we really loving him the way he wants? If we say that we love God but use his name so carelessly in our conversation that we devalue the name above all names, is that really loving him the way he wants?
The obvious answer to all those questions is, “NO!” We might talk like we love God, but often our actions show something completely different. God warns us, “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
That’s just our love for God. What about our love for each other? Jesus continued his command. He also said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus defines our neighbor as being anyone in this world.
So you can say that you love others, but that is not enough. If we say that we love others but so often erupt with anger or snip with sarcasm or cut down with criticism, are we really loving our neighbors? If we start a conversation or a phone call or an E-mail or a text message with, “Did you hear about . . .” are we really loving our neighbors? If someone wrongs us in some way—in any way—but we aren’t willing to forgive, are we really loving our neighbors? If we build ourselves up and put others down, are we really loving our neighbors? If we see someone else in need but don’t help at all, are we really loving our neighbors? Verse 17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
The obvious answer to all those questions is again, “NO!” We might talk like we love others, but often our actions show something completely different. God warns us, “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
The consequence for not loving God or others with perfection is death—physical death and eternal death in hell. It’s not just about actions, it’s also about our thoughts and words. John says in verse 15, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” Any action, any thought, any word that is not filled with love results in that person not receiving eternal life. So John closes in the last verse, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Don’t just talk the talk, but Walk the Walk of Love.
God has done some talking about love himself over the years. God once defined his name to Moses like this: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.” God described himself as a God who is compassionate and slow to anger, a God who abounds in love, a God who even forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin.
But God has done more than just talk the talk. He also walked the walk. Listen to John in verse 16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Jesus literally walked the walk. He came to the world which he created and walked around in it as one of us. He subjected himself to God’s laws and walked every day of his life with perfect love for his Father and perfect love for every other person. Then he demonstrated the full extent of his love in this way—he laid down his life for us to pay for our sins.
The Greek word used for love in these verses is so very important. The word is agape. Agape love is a very special kind of love. It is unconditional love. It is forgiving love. It is love despite who a person is or what a person has done. This is the kind of love that John says God has for us. God agape loves us. His love is unconditional. His love is forgiving of all our sins. He loves us despite the sins we have committed and the guilt that we bear.
In fact, God loves us so much that John goes on to say in chapter 4, “God is love.” That’s who he is and what he does. He is love. He shows love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s agape love changes our lives. It changes where we are going (heaven instead of hell). It changes our outlook on life. It changes our attitude in life. You see, agape love is not only what God shows us. Agape love is what we show God and we show others. Look at verse 16 once more: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
As God has shown us unconditional and forgiving love, so now we will show that kind of love toward others. As Jesus gave himself up for us, so now we can give ourselves up for others. If Jesus can love us enough—sinners who have disobeyed him constantly—that he would live and die for us, then certainly we also can and will show that kind of love toward others.
That means that we will think about what we say before we actually say it. That also means that we will think about what we type before we hit send on the E-mail, the text message, or the Facebook status update. Loving like Jesus means that we will protect others’ good names and stop gossip rather than facilitating it. Loving like Jesus means that we will forgive our spouse, even when he or she messes up again and again and again. Loving like Jesus means loving the coworker who is a little annoying and loving the neighbor who is never nice to us.
God’s agape love completely changes us because it fill us with agape love for him and for others. Since God has loved us in such incredible and boundless ways, we don’t just talk the talk of love. No, we also Walk the Walk of Love.
Love is something the world is not used to. The way of the world is to put yourself first, to climb to the top and push anyone out of the way who gets in your way. That’s why John says in the first verse, “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” The world will be surprised, angry, and ridiculing when they hear us say that we love God and love other people.
Well the world is about to hate us even more, because we don’t just say that we love. We show that we love. Jesus has loved us enough to lay down his life for us to save us from our sin. That love fills us and changes us. Now we talk the talk and we Walk the Walk of Love.
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Posted on May 29, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged 1 John, 1 John 3, Church, Hate, Love, Love the Lord, Love Your Neighbor, Sermons, Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.