Final Class • Devotion 4

Word and Deed
David Hudgens

“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” John 14:24

All throughout my elementary and secondary education, I experienced a relatively high level of success and command over all the subjects matters, except for one class, English. Each year, and with every progressive degree of difficulty, I struggled to grasp this most basic literary concept: show the reader rather than tell the reader. The best writers use carefully crafted language to paint unique but recognizable words and characters in order that audiences not simply be told a series of messages or lessons devoid of the agents of learning; but instead, be provided a universe of thoughts, emotions, motivations, and more that supply the how and why, and not merely the what.

It would take many years after high school for me to truly understand this concept. Looking back, I suppose I struggled against the reason for this literary method. Regrettably, I realized much later that I stunted my development by insisting on asking these two questions over and over again: “Why do I need to provide so much detail? Why are the basic facts not enough?” Strangely, for me, the answer to these questions would actually come from my personal study of God’s Word and from living in a relationship with Him through Jesus.

Consider John 14:24, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” In this section of John’s Gospel, the time of Jesus’ crucifixion is soon approaching and Jesus is sharing some final wisdom and instruction with His beloved disciples. Just before verse 24, Jesus is asked how He would manifest Himself to those who love Him and not to the world (verse 22). His reply, verses 23-24, at first glance appears to be an odd response, but a deeper meditation of His answer reveals something simple but no less profound.

Jesus is presenting perhaps the primary conduit for how God the Father will be made known in the world through the believer, how He will be made manifest. Here it is: one’s expressed love for God. However, Jesus clearly points out that this love is not only to be expressions made through verbal confessions alone. Rather it is a love that is expressed through one’s demonstrated faith-filled obedience to His Word. In other words, one’s actions should speak louder than one’s words.

The New Testament writers highlight this precept routinely. James addresses a faith without works, calling it dead (James 2:14-26). Paul exhorts the Roman church to not “just pretend to love others. Really love them” (Romans 12:9 NLT). John, in his second epistle, puts it this way, “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments” (2 John 1:6). Finally, Paul again in his letter to the Philippians encourages believers to live and love with the same attitude of Christ Jesus who was obedient to God even to the point of dying on a cross for us (Philippians 2:1-8).

To me, it is clear throughout the whole of John chapter 14, and the surrounding passages, that biblical love is explicitly complete and therefore God made manifest in our lives by the bonding of word and deed, deed and word. Furthermore, it is understood that obedient love is sourced in the person of Jesus and our being connected to Him, just as He is to the Father. The depth of this mystery, I suspect, will continue to be revealed to me throughout my life on Earth as I continue to meditate upon the need to show my love for God in the way I live and not only concern myself with what I think and say alone.

The challenge of John 14:24 remains, do you love Jesus? Do you really love Him? How do you know? Do you only say that you love Him or do you demonstrate your love for Him by faith-filled obedience to Him and His Word?
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