It seems to me that when a Christian says, “I love you” the background definition in their brain isn’t particularly strong. Love is much more than feelings of fondness or appreciation, although those are probably included.
Love is much more than “a second hand emotion” (sorry Tina). It involves faithfulness, commitment, and actions. Love is self-donation but even more, self-sacrifice.
When was the last time you had someone go out of their way to sacrifice time, effort and/or money for you? I expect you had to think hard to think of an incident. I doubt that most Christians can identify such an event in the past week. Turn that around. What have you done for another believer this week that was other than your natural agenda? When did you last set aside what you would really like to do in favour of something you didn’t want to do but that love demanded?
Some people can count on one hand the number of times someone sacrificed for them without an expectation of a return favour. Quit sniveling about it if that is you! Take a look at how other people fail to demonstrate that kind of goodwill and action you needed in a crisis and make a commitment to yourself that you will do better with others. Don’t wish the church people around you were better; wish that you could more fluidly be better yourself.
Next time someone needs something and asks for your help, say “Yes!” Don’t think about the other things just rearrange your schedule. Never allow yourself the luxury question, “Will I or won’t I?” If it is something good and you ask the question you probably won’t do it. If it is something bad and you ask the question you probably will do it. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37.
Sometimes the most important thing you can do to express love is to give someone your time. Give them time and interest in what they have to say. Generally speaking, they know you don’t have perfect answers for them. But in saying things out lout sometimes there is comfort and even new insight.
I think you will find there is always time to get the other things done that seemed important before you displaced them with your time to listen or help. The only unpaid debt you should have is “the continuing debt to love one another,” Romans 13:8 There will always be more love that you need to share. Perhaps your example will stimulate others to fill out the love deficit in your church.
What’s love got to do with it? For the true believer, everything.