The key to being everything God want us to be is love. It is not religious rituals, it’s not going to church every Sunday, or eating the Lord’s supper, or prayer, or reading the Bible. All of those things are good things, but without love, they are nothing. Nothing.
1 Corinthians 13; If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
To the Greeks, in whose language the New Testament is written, there are three different kinds of love. Eros, sexual love, Philia, brotherly or friendship love, and Agape, the sacrificial or Godly love.
Since Agape is God’s love I submit there is really no other kind of love. Sex is sex and friendship is friendship, but only the sacrificial godly love is real love.
People often worry about this commandment or that edict or do’s and don’ts. There are only two real commandments. You shall love God with all your mind, body and spirit, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The Bible tells us if you truly keep these, you have kept the WHOLE law.
The logic is simple, if you love God, you will do His Will. If you love your neighbor, you will do him no harm and will seek to help him.
Sadly, I believe it is a lack of love that hurts the Church today. The lost see Christians as warmongers, as bigots, as self-righteous hypocrites. Sad as I am to say it, they are right about the majority. This was never God’s will. God wants us to love everyone. If we embraced love we could change the world.
So what is love? Thankfully, God tells us in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1. Love is patient
You are willing to wait, not just on people but on God as well. You do not let the rush of this world get to you. If you don’t get what you want today, you wait until tomorrow.
Impatience leads to frustration which leads to anger which leads to all manner of sin.
2. Love is kind
Be kind to people. Greet others with a cheerful greeting. Everything you do should be in an effort to make everyone else’s day better.
3. Love does not envy
Do not covet what others have. Be content with what God has given you. This not only includes material possessions, but spouses, homes, careers, friends, and so on.
4. Love does not boast
Do not seek glory. Give all glory to God, who is deserving. If you are successful, give the glory to which it belongs, God. Do not keep glory for yourself and puff yourself up thinking you are somebody, because you can do nothing without God.
5. Love is not proud
Pride comes before a fall. Pride can keep you from asking for help when you need it, or confessing sins you ought, from asking forgiveness, not only from God but from those you’ve wronged. Arrogance is not a virtue, it is despised. You are not always right, we are often in fact, wrong.
6. Love is not rude
Be kind, do not make fun of people, do not point out faults in others. Be considerate of other people’s time, it is just as valuable as your own. Listen when someone needs an ear to hear him.
7. Love is not self-seeking
Christ should be a good enough example of this, but you are not to put yourself first. A good word I once heard was the “I’m third” policy. That is, God’s first, everyone else comes second, and I come third. Put others needs before your own. Take care of those who need help, and always be self-sacrificing. In essence, do not be selfish, but selfless.
8. Love is not easily angered
Do not be quick to turn to anger. Always try to work things out diplomatically. Blessed are the peacekeepers, large and small. Most disagreements can be solved with calm, rationale conversation.
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs
FORGIVE. I cannot stress this one enough. Forgive people, even when they don’t ask you. Do not hold grudges. Do not bring up past sins or wrongs against someone as leverage. Grudges only serve to hurt you.
10. Love does not delight in evil
The Bible generally uses the word “evil” to describe unfortunate events, or tragedies. Do not rejoice when bad things occur. When people die, mourn, when tragedy strikes, do not rejoice. This includes people you might not even know, or like. For example, when bombs fall on an enemy nation, it may be necessary to secure our own lives, but do not rejoice in death. Have pity on our enemies, and disdain the loss of life.
11. Love rejoices with the truth
The real truth is Jesus Christ, He said so Himself. The Gospel is the greatest truth, so we should rejoice with it the most. But even small truths are worth celebrating. Rejoice and delight when light exposes lies and secrets.
12. Love always protects
Defend the weak, protect those who cannot protect themselves. Not only against the dangers of this world but help to safeguard the souls of weaker Christians.
13. Love always trusts
Another hard one. Trust people. It goes against everything the World tells us, but so does nearly everything God wants us to do. See the best in people, not the worst. Believe people when they repent. If you can never put your trust in anyone, you will live a sad life. And of course, trust the Lord. Trust His Word and His promises.
14. Love always hopes
Be optimistic. Again I say, look for the best in people. Assume people you meet are good until they prove you wrong. I’ve heard pessimists the world over say they are just “realistic” but this is a farce to cover their bitter nature. I’ve found its very hard, near impossible, for cranky pessimistic people to love others. You’ve got to have hope.
15. Love always perseveres
Stay the course. Keep in there. Don’t give up. Holding on for one more day may mean the difference between life and death, between a long marriage and a bitter divorce. Keep loving people, even when they don’t love you. Hope (remember!) they will come around.
16. Love never fails
This does not mean you will never fail, but that love never does. Love never ceases to affect people in a positive way. When in doubt, just love someone. Love everyone, even your enemies, for this is the will of God. Love Him and others, because He first loved us. He, even while we were still sinners, sent His only Son to die for our sins, so that we might have reconciliation with Him. God loves us more than we can ever fathom. He loves us more than we could ever love anyone. Therefore love, and in doing so you will be all that He wants you to be.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
1 John 3:11-20
1 John 4:7-21