Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
As I prepare to attend and read through the papers for a residential synod meeting in a few days, I wonder where this passage sits? I have no doubt that the meeting will be flooded with words and speech. Some of this will be positive and encouraging, some will be frustrating and depressing. Some will, hopefully, be challenging and inspiring. Such events are always good opportunities to catch up and share experiences, discover and become more informed. However, what will happen when we leave and return to our respective pastorates? Will the papers be neatly filed or shredded with a brief summary report presented at the next elders’ and church meeting? Will it all just be words and speech?
We are really good at words and speech. We are also good at rituals, systems and creating importance. The problems arise though when all this drains us of energy, we sideline the influence and impact of that truth and we become too weary to act. What follows is the negativity of scepticism and criticism together with all those missed opportunities. Too often we need reminding that our perceived greatness is nothing compared with the actual greatness of God.
Today we once again read that it’s all about a love that should be both seen and experienced. We might say the right words but how willing are we to take responsibility and actually act on them and live them out?
As God’s love for us was put into action through the sacrifice of Jesus; how can you demonstrate in practical ways the love you say you have and the truth you stand by? Don’t let your ego and what you say distract you from having a love that is far more than word or speech.
God of compassion, in this moment I seek your greatness. Consume me with your presence so that I can love in truth and action. A love that is more that word and speech. Amen
The Rev’d David Scott is Minister of Duke Street & Saughtonhall URCs in Edinburgh.