Does verse 18 teach us that we shouldn’t say “I love you” to others? If not, what does it mean?

We are not to love in word or tongue. It is not just words. Words are easy to say. But telling someone you love them doesn’t make it true.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 14 2023 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Justin Hale
The Holy Spirit brought this same point up once before in a different context through the apostle James which may shed more light on His meaning. Compare the two passages and see what jumps out to you:

"By this we have known love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:16-18).

"What use is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead by itself." (James 2:14-17).

This also reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13 and the 'love' chapter:

"...and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2).

If you HAVE to say, 'I love you' than you probably don't. However, your question also asks us to consider whether 'I love you' enhances an act of love, not just 'replaces' an act of love.

That appears to be a different question. 

"Greet one another with a holy kiss." (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20). 

This has fallen out of favor among Christians and has even become 'ring-kissing' and other more secular traditions honoring dignitaries and leaders in some of our circles. The act of a simple kiss also betrayed our Lord Himself, (Matthew 26:49). 

So we must say that this is more of a 'word-based gesture' than an act of love, per se. It can mean everything from 'I love you' to 'I betray you.' If we are still commanded to do this anyway, it is clear that also saying 'I love you' in some meaningful way remains important to GOD and to enhancing our loving treatment of each other, it just cannot be the ONLY expression.

February 14 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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