Last week I was playing basketball. A group of us were there at the Cedar Hills Gym in Portland playing 3 on 2. That’s a little awkward, 3 on 2, but we were jabbering at each other and generally having a great time anyway. Then in walks this guy who’s tall. Not NBA tall, but tall, you know, like 6 feet 5 inches. He’s taller than the rest of us, and he hardly says a word. He just joins in to make it 3 on 3 and–in a silent Clint Eastwood-like manner–proceeds to completely dismantle us. It didn’t matter how we arranged the teams, the silent assassin always won. He was so amazingly effective.
And that guy reminds me of Jesus.
He reminds me of Jesus because of this curious quirk in the gospel accounts. Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus (or any of his disciples for that matter) quoted as saying the words, “I love you.”
How I Removed “I Love You” From My Vocabulary
Many of you have read the Love Like Jesus series of blog posts on God Running. To research for that series I went through all four gospels and looked at every recorded encounter Jesus had with another person. So each post cites a specific encounter and how Jesus loved that person in that instance. Then each post ends with how you and I can love people in the same way Jesus did in that particular encounter. Well I was thinking about those Love Like Jesus posts recently and I remembered how Jesus is never quoted as actually saying the words, “I love you.”
So toward my goal to love people the way Jesus loved people (I fail every day, believe me) I decided to try it. I decided to try it for about a week. So for about one week now I have taken the phrase, “I love you,” out of my vocabulary.
So What Happened?
So what happened? Removing “I love you” from my vocabulary has been one of the most powerful practices I’ve ever implemented in my entire life. And here’s why:
As a writer who works at home, most of my time is spent with my wife. And I love her. I mean I’m crazy about her. But this week I’m under this self imposed vow of silence when it comes to saying the words “I love you.” So what happens is this pressure very quickly builds until I’m almost bursting inside to find ways to express my love for Kathy. Not saying, “I love you,” has been like putting a cork in the bottle of bubbling emotion inside of my being. Suddenly I just have to find a way. A way to communicate to my wife how much I love her.
So I acted. I acted because what else can I do, but act? I expressed my love through acts of service. Nothing major, just small gestures during the course of the week. And I expressed my love through a gift, again nothing spectacular, just a small gift. And the result has been, this week was one of the best weeks of my life. Who knew not saying those particular words could have such a powerful effect?
But it makes sense if you think about it. Jesus of course did say, I love you, when he sacrificed himself for us. When he substituted himself for us who sin, to redeem us. He gave up himself for us. So there is no doubt he loves us.
And Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” “As I have loved you,” he said. So when we follow his command, when we love like Jesus loved, by giving of ourselves, of course it has impact. (John 15:12)
So I dare you to try it yourself. Take the words, “I love you,” out of your vocabulary for a week and find creative ways to express your love for people. I dare you to try it yourself, especially if you’re like me and you tend to communicate love using words.
Try it and see what happens.
You won’t regret it I promise.
It will help you to love like Jesus.
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
Image via Craig Sunter – Creative Commons