“Love talked about is easily turned aside, but love demonstrated is irresistible,” said humanitarian Walter Stanley Mooneyham. His words echo a Biblical principle: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth,” (1 John 3:18, NIV). In these times when most of our human interactions are through screens, how can we demonstrate love instead of just talking about it? And in this climate of controversy, how do we strike a loving balance between advocacy, activism, and relationship?

When we must communicate with words in the absence of hugs, and sometimes in the absence of facial expressions in video or tones of voice in a call, is it still possible to convey love in the way that we speak? I think so. It requires a few actions of us before we speak.

Before tapping Send or Post, we can ask ourselves a few questions: Do these words exalt Jesus over me, and over any person or human agenda? Have I balanced truth with grace, as my Lord always does? Does this message honor the Creator’s work in every person who might read it, respecting them not because they agree with me but because they were made in His image? What is the Holy Spirit saying to me about the timing of this topic? Have I prayed for the person I’m trying to influence? Do I have an outstanding debt of forgiveness toward the person I’m speaking to?

These questions are my attempt to unpack the guidance of Colossians 3:12-14, NASB: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

Finally, in my own experience I have found that ideas can be exchanged in a crowd, but love is most easily received in a one-on-one or small group setting. So instead of logging on to catch up with dozens of friends, can I give one person the gift of my time and undivided attention on the phone? If I only have a minute, can I text or send a short voice recording of a prayer for a family I love? Could I write out a thank you note or a blessing?

I will never do this perfectly, but with a bit of intentionality every day, I can make more of my words serve the Lord’s purpose for me to love people and reveal the treasure He is.