“If you love me, then you will” . How many times do people say this to one another? This phrase can be used to manipulate, and even to get the person you’re directing it towards to do something that is against their conscience. But even Jesus asked this question of someone close to Him. in John 21:17 Jesus directs this question to Peter: He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed because He said to him a third time , “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything ! You know that I love you!” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep!” In other words: “if you love me, then you will.”
Love requires more than words, and there are times when loving someone costs us something. It may cost us our time and energy, the sacrifice of something we really want to do that isn’t in our loved one’s best interest, or even a relationship with another. But we have an example of true love in Jesus. He came to earth to live among us as a man, feeling what we feel, experiencing rejection, being completely misunderstood, even hated. And in the end, He was sacrificed for our salvation by an angry, hate-filled mob.
The words “I love you” are easy to say, and most of us mean them when we say them to someone, but these words must be followed by action. If we say we love our children, but never spend time with them or listen to how they are feeling, then the action will speak louder than our words. If we say we love our spouse, but choose unfaithfulness or other self-centered behaviors instead of responding to their needs, then our spouse will not experience the type of love they need from us.
We are all designed by God to need love. Words are one way to express true love, but eventually we will have to prove that love to those we care about. Be mindful to show love to those God has put in your life. What we give to others, we receive back.