National Association of Marriage Enhancement

More Than Words

Many times spouses come into the counseling office saying, “well, I don’t think he/she loves me.” How do we get to that point in our marriage where we are unsure of our spouses love? Have you made your spouse doubt your love? What does the Bible say about how to show love?

1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth.” (NASB)

We are all children to God. We have not yet matured into spiritual adulthood, for all of us know now in part and have not experienced the full knowledge of God so we must posture ourselves as children—ready to receive wisdom from His Word.
The first part of this verse says not to love simply with our mouth. It is one thing to speak love and another to show love. The word deed in the Greek is ‘ergon.’ Ergon most nearly means work or performance. Love must be done. Love must be performed—not in the fake sense of the word like an actor or actress, rather it must be put into practice. Love also must be shown in truth. Truth is the Greek word ‘aletheia.’ Aletheia is the reality pertaining to appearance. It “denotes the reality lying clearly before our eyes.” Sometimes there is mystery in truth, but not in the truth here in t his verse. This truth is plain. Our love should be plain. It should be obvious that the love that is inside of us (the reality) matches the love that comes out of us (the appearance).

Speaking love is still great too, but speaking love is more of a form of encouragement than actual lavished love. Love in the Bible is a word that holds action. When Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself,” It was a command, and love was the verb. Again, expressing love with your mouth is not wrong, but it is hardly necessary when you are performing or working love in truth.
Verse 17 says, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

This verse clearly is dealing with someone in financial need and a Christian who refuses to help. There is a way that this relates to marriage though. You probably share finances with your spouse so that is not an issue. However, there are times when we withhold help to our husband or wife. How have you done that? Have you withheld emotional support or help with the kids? Maybe you have failed to serve your spouse sexually or failed to serve sweetly? A person (spouse) who has closed their heart off is not abiding in God’s love.

Verse 16 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
This scripture is talking about sacrifice. The greatest outpouring of love was Christ on the cross, and that love was sacrificial love. We too must sacrifice for others. We may not literally be giving up our lives, but we may have a chance to compromise or sacrifice our wants and desires for the sake of our spouses’ wants and desires. True love is willing to lay down their pride or their winning spirit and allow their spouse to make a decision. True love is willing to sacrifice by doing something they detest purely for the enjoyment and happiness of the other person. Sacrifice is one of the ultimate goals to ultimate love.

You, as the reader, may be thinking why was this piece written backwards (18,17,16)? Eighteen summarizes seventeen and sixteen. Eighteen lays down the groundwork. Remember verse eighteen says that when it comes to love actions are more powerful than words. Love is to be performed with the action matching up to the reality of the heart. The following two verses discuss two ways that that action can be shown. First, we are not to withhold help. Second, we are to show our love through our sacrifice. Next time your spouse questions your love for them, analyze yourself. Is your love more than words? Have you been helpful? Have you been willing to sacrifice?