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Devotional: October 15, 2020

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

         First John 3: 18-20      The Message

John has an important message for us: we must do more than just talk about love. While words are good, loving actions speak volumes. Far too many people talk about love, but never follow up their words with any action. 

Eugene Peterson’s The Message Translation even goes farther. “Real” love is love which is put into practice. Any love which does not translate into action is therefore “fake” love! 

John’s words echo the teachings of Jesus. Here is what Jesus had to say:

“Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.”

         Matthew 23: 1-3         The Message

John is also helpful in pointing out that when we practice love, it can help defeat negative self-talk. Some people are so aware of their shortcomings and their sin that they cannot see anything good about themselves. This is a topic which is sometimes misunderstood. We are created in the image of the Lord. Thus, we are good. Self-love is not selfishness, nor vain or narcissistic: that is not what the scriptures are talking about. John is emphasizing that we acknowledge the good in us, even though we all have flaws. If we focus on the good, then our negative talk about ourselves does not overflow and transform into talking negatively about others. 

When we focus on others by loving them, our relationships with them grow to become strong and healthy. When we find ourselves in a fit of self-criticism, nothing helps more than focusing on others, by loving them.

When our worried hearts condemn us, we need to remember that Christ’s love saves us. Thank the Lord for this reassuring truth!


Father God,

We are so blessed to be called Your children. Let us love others in the same way that You loved us: with actions, and not just words. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for Your saving love, which overcomes even the most worried of our hearts. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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