Love One Another

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(John 13:34-35)

How easy is it to love people? Pretty easy, right? I love my husband. He may upset me at times, but I can forgive him and move on. I love my daughter. She may give me gray hair but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. I love my mom. She was always there for us and fed me in the latter part of my life with M&M’s and seasoned oyster crackers (which I loved and it sustained me during our visits). I always have time to talk to her when she calls me and go to her when she needs me. I love my friends. Though we may not always agree  (disagreeing greatly at times) I would be there for them and forgive them when needed. What about other people though? Are you able to love and forgive others who aren’t close to you but who hurt you or even those who may seem unlovable? Some of those people are right in the body of Christ, believe it or not, and are the very ones Christ calls us to love.

Romans 12:10 states:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

What is brotherly affection?  A brother is known to be someone of the same parent as you. That makes them close to you, of the same blood. With a brother (or sister) most of the time you have a different type of relationship with them as opposed to someone who is not of the family. Affection is a fond attachment, devotion or love. So we must have the same love for others as we do for our own family. This means we must help as we help our family. We must forgive as we forgive our family. We must be patient and kind as we are with our own family. Ok, not all families are that close and sometimes you can have that type of connection more with friends than with family, but the point is we must love them the same. It’s all throughout the bible:

Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

1 John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

And finally, 1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

What does that mean? How does love cover a multitude of sins? When we love, we are more apt to forgive offenses, unkind actions, and people’s issues while helping them or working with them. When we love, we are more apt to have more patience with them, want to see the best for them and treat them more with kindness than hostility when they try our patience. When we love, we don’t constantly think about the wrongs done to us by others but have surrendered it to the Lord, allowed Him to take care of it and have forgiven that person. We can find a cross reference scripture in Proverbs 10:12 that implies the same as the one I just mentioned in 1 Peter 4:8. Proverbs 10:12 states:

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

When we don’t have love and forgiveness, we therefore have the opposite which is hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness. Those three words have been the cause of family feuds, church divisions, and wars. They have caused people to have sleepless nights, physical ailments, and a life filled with misery. Just as the heart is a vital organ that can pump with life or stop with death, the same is true spiritually. Our heart can pump with a life full of love towards others, or be destroyed by hatred and bitterness causing a spiritual death. In the physical, we can choose what to feed our bodies and how to exercise it to help our heart be stronger and live longer. The same is true spiritually. We have a choice what we feed our spirit and how we exercise it to help our heart either be stronger and live longer or die a slow agonizing death. That’s the great thing about God…He doesn’t really force us to do anything. He may encourage us, remind us and even send us warnings of what could happen if we don’t make the right choice, but He gives us the choice to make knowing full well that we may make the wrong choice. If that’s the case, then He will use those times when we must suffer the consequences of our wrong choices, as a learning process, to mold us, strengthen us and build us up while drawing us closer to Him. For some this happens quickly while for others it may take some time because not everyone learns at the same rate and our stubbornness can hinder us. Yet for many more, because they do not accept Jesus, they will go on to suffer the consequences of their wrong actions not only in this life but in eternal life as well.

We must heed the warnings God gives to us regarding forgiveness. It’s quite simple to understand and we can find it in Matthew 6:14-15:

 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us. There is no picking that scripture apart or taking it out of context…if we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven.

I want to leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’ve read it countless times, we’ve heard sermons on it more than we can count. But I want you to really read it and take the words in because this is what God demonstrates with us and this is what He expects us to demonstrate to others.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”

We are living in a world that is becoming colder by the day, where love is tossed around and then taken back when someone hurts us or upsets us. We are living in a world where hatred and violence are being shown more than love and acts of kindness. We must demonstrate love to all people, so all people will know that we are Disciples of Christ and that we have love for one another. This does not mean we condone sin. But if people can see love in us, then they will know that Jesus is love and will want to know Him on a more personal level.