V 18. Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
Verbal expressions of love are just too easy! This walking in the light and loving one another is so much more than just cheap, pop-song words. Love needs a handle, a visible expression to demonstrate the truth of it. The earlier verse 17 is a rhetorical question, ‘ If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?’
As far as John is concerned it beggars belief if a person with plenty of worldly possessions fails to share them with a person in need – love demands action, generous compassion.
Just as self-giving love characterises the Three-in-One God, that same love becomes a characteristic of the child of God adopted into the Trinity. When there is no love shining out from one who claims to be a child of God something is wrong somewhere. V 14 reminds us ‘If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.’ And love requires action to verify its reality. No better description of this love can be found than 1 Corinthians 13. ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’
Love is not sentimentality, but the tough and determined response of a person who has experienced God’s love in Christ.