Tag Archives: Those three little words

Do you love me? Is it really true?

Tevye, the colorful character from Fiddler on the Roof, leans over quietly and asks his wife, “Do you love me?” She screams in reply, “Do I WHAT?!” “Do you love me?” he asks again with genuine concern. She goes into an indignant tirade of how she bore his children, cooked his meals, washed his clothes, and so many other chores she’s done in 25 years. Acknowledging her many expressions of love, he gently repeated, “But do you love me?” Quietly she admitted, “I guess I do love you.” Teasingly, he replied, “Then I guess I love you too.” Together they sigh saying, “After 25 years. it’s nice to know.”

How do you know love is true? Is it by the repetition of those three little words, “I love you?” (Or perhaps those other three: “I was wrong!”) Or is it in the consistent demonstration of loving acts? We could say “both” and be closest to the truth. But neither words alone nor actions by themselves are the true test of live, are they? We can, and sometimes do, speak idle words and perform repeated acts of service more in response to duty than true love.

But somehow, our hearts are able to confirm what eyes have seen and lips have spoken. Here comes a time when the heart knows for sure what the mind has only acknowledged to be true.

“In sickness and in health” has a way of testing true love. Marcia and I have experienced this to be true through this long and unexpected journey brought cancer. In face of adversity, true love finds both gentleness and strength. It learns the value in f commitment and persevering and also humble surrender. Whatever we knew as star struck lovers 44 years ago has been positively confirmed to be true in a much deeper sense than we ever could have imagined.

The same is true about God’s Word which is his love letter to you and me. At some point we come to acknowledge that God IS God and his Word is inherently true. we know it in our minds, confirm it with our lips, and believe it in our heart. And yet there is a deeper sense of knowing God’s true love that comes only by experiencing it through difficult trials. I’ve commented before that I would t have chosen this journey through cancer, BUT I’ve discovered along its path blessings I would never have discovered on a more comfortable road. Whereas once I “knew” God’s live and Word to be true in my mind and heart, now I know it to be true through the experience of his grace, his power to persevere, the comfort of his promise and the real hope in his faithful promises. That he loves me – and you – is undeniably evidenced both in times of rejoicing and times of sorrow and pain. Even if I had none of this, the price his Son Jesus paid for the forgiveness of my sins was evidence enough of his great love. Our God is a good God. His banner over me is mercy and love.

But is the “flip side” also true? How should we reply when Jesus asks us what he asked his disciple Peter, “Do you love me?” Is it sufficient to go about dutiful good deeds like Tevye’s wife Golde? Or is it sufficient to say the words in prayer and song? Deep down we know true love is expressed not only by simple words or sacrificial deeds. It’s known by all that flows from a humble heart that gives a sacrifice of praise and a life yielded completely to him, no holds barred, no distractions.

He’s asking, “Do you really love me? Is it really true?” How will you respond today?

It’s not enough to be sorry


I remember Don Knight speaking words of wisdom to a group of men at church years ago. He encouraged us all to speak “those three little words” every woman desperately longs for a man to say. You’re probably thinking he was going to remind us the importance of saying, “I love you.” But according to Don, the three little words most important and most cherished by women are those spoken by the man who admits, “I was wrong!”


The popular movie, “Love Story” became famous for it’s punch line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Even the actor who spoke the line looks back and says, “What rubbish!” Love means admitting you’re wrong and saying you’re sorry. It’s sometimes hard to say it because quite truthfully we want to be right. But as perfect as you might be, there will come a time when you will not be right and it will be best to swallow the pride and say “those three little words.”


But it’s not really enough, is it? We can’t just say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Something more is required. The purpose of admitting being wrong and sorry is to change our thinking and our behavior so we don’t find ourselves in that same situation again! The spiritual word for this is repentance, which means to turn away from wrong and change.


Some folk complained to Jesus about other “sinners.” Jesus’ response was that there aren’t some who are worse sinners than others and that “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:3)


The truth is, we all fall short. (Romans 3:23) None of us hit the mark. Maybe some days, we aren’t even aiming at the right target. We aim too low in pursuing personal ambitions and filling our sense of self-worth. We aim to “keep busy” rather than to live with purpose. We set up goals that really won’t satisfy us at life’s end. Sometimes we don’t even set up any goals, but just coast through life as it happens to us. Our lives, while designed to be fruitful in spiritual ways, encouraging to others and honoring to God, sometimes may be barren of any good and lasting value.


A couple retired and sold their home. They purchased a boat and spent all their last days collecting sea shells. Piper asks, “How will they answer God when he calls them home and asks what they did with the life he gave them? “I collected sea shells?!” What a waste!”” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life)


Jesus tells the story of a man who had a fig tree that never bore fruit. Year after year it remained barren. He was going to have it cut down. But the man who took care of his vineyard pleaded with him, “Leave it alone for one more year and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not then cut it down.” (Luke 13:6-9)


It’s not enough to be sorry that our lives are so barren of God’s love, joy, and peace. It’s not enough to feel regret that we lack patience, kindness, or goodness. We can admit we have too little faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But it’s not enough. We can’t produce fruit by working harder or doing more good things. But while time still remains, today is the day to dig in and fertilize our lives with the nourishment of God’s truth. This is the day to soak up his promises and let them feed the very root of our lives. That’s when fruit will come, by changing our life so it stays connected to God, the very creator of life. And THAT is enough.