Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
-1 John 4:7
There is a difference between not hating someone and actually loving them. Just because you do not hate someone, it does not mean you love them.
I have been married to my wife for almost three years. Like many couples think before they get married, I had this idea that it was going to be awesome all the time, that we were going to be able to spend plenty of time together, that we will hang out all the time and talk.
But about 6-9 months into our marriage I began to see that if I wasn’t being intentional in our marriage, these things weren’t going to happen. Because we were both busy and used to being around each other, I wasn’t thinking about spending time together as much as I used to. In my mind I started to think that since we were around each other more, that meant that she knew I loved her.
I found that if I wasn’t setting aside time to talk to her and devote time to our friendship, then we weren’t going to talk and we weren’t going to be great friends. Or if we didn’t plan to go on a date then we wouldn’t go on any dates.
I began to see that just because I didn’t hate her, it didn’t mean that I was loving her or that she felt loved. If I was not setting aside time for us to talk and spend time together, or go on dates, or if I wasn’t praying for her then I wasn’t loving her.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
-1 John 3:18
If we are not loving people in our actions, then are we really loving them? I can say I love my wife all day, but if I never act on it, I’m not really loving her.
What does it look like for you to love people? If we say we know God, we will love people. John tells us in 1 John 4:8 that “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” We love people in our deeds and in our actions, not simply in our words. And we love people because we know God, and we know that God first loved us.