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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 John 3:16–24

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. (NRSV)

Clarence Jordan was both a farmer and a New Testament Greek scholar. He was the founder of Koinonia Farm, a small religious community in Georgia. He was instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity. He was the author of the Cotton Patch Gospel paraphrase of the New Testament.

From this glimpse into his life’s activity, there’s little doubt that Jordan subscribed to the words in 1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” In his Cotton Patch Gospel, he said it this way: “My little ones, let’s not talk about love. Let’s not sing about love. Let’s put love into action and make it real.”

During the Lenten season, I started a practice of daily examen, a few minutes each day examining the past day—my interactions and attitudes, my conversations, the people that appeared in my life and my treatment of them. There were a lot of days when “putting love into action” or “making love real” fell pretty short. But the practice of examining my previous day’s activities, thoughts, and feelings was an attempt to get better at putting love into action.

Sometimes I marvel at the self-giving nature of some people I observe, the way people can lay down their lives for the well-being of another. No, it’s not always that people actually die for someone else, in the manner of Jesus. But I see so many people give over part of themselves for someone else’s benefit so that someone else knows that love exists, so that another person gets the help they need to survive, so that a loved one hears a hard word when that hard word will lead to something better. It’s good to take stock and ask yourself how you’ve put love into action and made it real.

Dear Jesus, help me put my words about love into action that is loving. Forgive all the times I miss the mark. But please, O God, never let me stop trying. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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