Love with Ergon and Aletheia – 1 John 3:16-18

A few weeks ago, you may recall that one of the Scripture readings here at Bethel was 1 John 3. Now, 1 John 3:16 is one of my favorite verses. John says:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

On that particular Sunday however it was the verses that came after that struck me in a new way. John goes on in verse 18 to say “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”. Wow, after hearing that I was instantly convicted of how often I wish people well, but don’t really do anything to love them. How much easier it is for us to love in theory or in thought and how much more difficult it is for us to love with actions and in truth!

Interested in this passage, I dug into the Greek a bit. I found that the word here translated as “actions” is the word ergon. Ergon carries with it the understanding of work and labor. What does it mean that we are to love others with ergon? It means that loving others isn’t a once-a-year event or a well-wishing comment. Just as the Son of God came down from heaven to live on earth and took on flesh to be with us, we are called to labor in love with others. We are called to live relationally and love others even when it is work for us to do so.

But a labor of love isn’t all that John encourages us towards. Labor with love, he says, but do it in truth! The word translated as truth here is aletheia. Aletheia means a truth which has been revealed. As Christians we know what true love is because Jesus laid down his life for us.

How do we truthfully love others? We truthfully love them by imitating Christ and laying down our lives on a ongoing basis for them.

So, who is God calling you to love with actions and in truth, today?

Lord, help us to love others not just with words or tongue, but with ergon and aletheia. We know love because you set the example by sending your Son to die for us on the cross that we might have new life in you. Go with us as we love with actions and in truth. Amen.

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