Michelle M. Law-Gordon

Michelle M. Law-Gordon

If ever there was a time when people celebrate love, I would venture to say it’s during the month of February. This is due to the fact that Valentine’s Day falls on Feb. 14.

People all over this country show their feelings of affection and friendship by giving flowers, chocolates and maybe even diamonds. We pride ourselves in the giving of gifts as an expression of our love and adoration for the special people in our lives.

But now that Valentine’s Day has passed, do those you showered with candy, flowers and gifts still feel the love? How many times have you reminded them since then?

I ran across a quote by Jodi Picoult that says “You don’t have to say I love you to say I love you.” In addition, I’ve often heard it said, “Love is what love does.” What both of these quotes imply is so long as a person shows love, it doesn’t need to be said.

As a pastor, chaplain and mentor, I’ve often heard people say they simply want to be loved. All across this country, there are people who are looking for love. Children are looking for love from their parents. Husbands and wives are looking for love from their spouses. And sometimes, people will even seek love from strangers. When one attends a church service, if nothing else is said, they expect to hear that God loves them. People need to hear that they are loved, yet we justify not verbally expressing it by declaring, “I don’t say it, but I show it.”

I would like to suggest to all of us that we reassess our view as it relates to love. While there are times when our actions will speak volumes and will perhaps be an expression of love, I contend that if the receiver of those actions has never heard the giver express that love verbally, he or she may not know it’s an act of love. Instead it might be viewed as one person doing something for another with no knowledge of why it’s being done. Or it might even be viewed as someone doing something with a hidden agenda or an ulterior motive. My point is, unless we tell them, we should never assume people know we love them.

Why do we minimize the importance of saying those three words? How often have you been with someone very important to you (family member, significant other or friend) and parted company without saying “I love you?” How often do you talk to someone on the phone whom you love dearly and hang up without uttering those three words?

If either of these interactions were your last with that person and something terrible happened that would prevent you from ever being able to see or speak to him again, would you regret not having said I love you … or would you be comfortable believing he or she just knew because you showed them? Would you be at peace knowing you didn’t seize the opportunity to remind them of how much they meant to you?

Yes, I do concur with the notion that love is an action word, but how can one know that what you’re doing is an expression of love if you haven’t told them? Matthew 12:34 says “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” In another translation, that verse reads “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

To speak is “to say something, to talk.” Love should not only be felt, it needs to be heard. Often when I counsel couples preparing to marry, I ask them why they want to get married. The initial goal is get them to talk about their love for one another so that both I as the counselor and they as counselees can ensure they are getting married for the right “primary” reason, which should be love. And my hope is that they are both able to verbalize this love.

I am reminded of the way a Christian receives salvation. Romans 10:9 says, we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. To confess is to give a statement or to make an announcement. Isn’t it amazing that your good deeds and random acts of kindness will not save you?

Salvation is a gift you receive based upon the profession of your faith. Your deeds are simply a way to show God how much you love and appreciate Him after you’ve told Him how much you love and trust him. In the same manner, your gifts and acts of kindness are simply a way to show those you love how you feel in a tangible way after you’ve told them.

My friends, as we continue in this New Year, walking with a clearer vision, I would like to challenge you to not only show the important people in your lives how much they mean to you but also to verbalize it. I encourage you to go forth and Show and Tell the people you care about just how much you love them.

Don’t just do something, say something: Say “I LOVE YOU.”

Michelle M. Law-Gordon is the pastor of Open Door Baptist Church and a lifelong member of New Ebenezer Baptist Church in Florence. She is a member of the Morning News’ Faith & Values Advisory Board. Contact her and other board members at fvboard@florencenews.

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