There is an innate desire in all of us to love our fellow man like we would desire to be cheerest back in return. But the natural inclination that God has bestowed upon all of us, I am sad to say, has been shrouded by negative emotions like jealousy and envy. Consequently, we find ourselves praying for tragedy to befall others rather than the good we always desire for ourselves.
In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In this simple statement, Jesus is calling on all of us to put aside any petty differences we may have and follow his example of unconditional love, just like he has showered his abounding love upon all of us unconditionally.
Looking around, it isn’t hard to find people we think are undeserving of Jesus’ all-encompassing love umbrella. And it is just that, an umbrella, for it is his love that protects us from the destructive forces of hate, anger, and resentment that rain down upon us every day.
Many people might feel that they don’t harbor any ill will against anyone, so the mantle of hate does not apply to them. But how many times have we seen these same people refuse to lend a helping hand to someone in need? They erroneously assume that simply because they don’t harm literally, they don’t hate—or dislike if you prefer a softer tone—anyone. But the true expression of love as taught by Jesus is not only withholding your hand against harming others but distributing that love generously and indiscriminately, just as Jesus did when He walked among us.
Nothing expresses this thought more eloquently than 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It reads,” love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; it will pass away as for knowledge.
This verse says that love and negative characteristics like impatience and rudeness cannot co-exist in the same body. These principles are opposed to each other and can be seen in how Jesus carried himself during his short stint on this earth. Even amid the horrible persecution he was subjected to, he remained patient and forbearing, refusing even to lift a hand or raise his voice in his defense. Yet, we allow ourselves to become angry with our neighbors and refuse to speak to them at the slightest provocation.
And why do so many of us succumb to the negative and unseemly habit of boasting about the material gains God has bestowed upon us while there are still so many others who are less fortunate than we? Wouldn’t it have been better to show our gratitude by sharing what we have been blessed with those less fortunate, rather than waving our material gains like a banner in derogation to the God who gave them to us? Remember, Jesus expressed his love for the poor by feeding the multitude with two fish and four loaves of bread, yet nowhere do we read where he partook of nourishment himself. His concern was solely for the welfare of others, not the accumulation of wealth or nourishment of the physical vessel he came in.
The world today seems to be plagued by an epidemic of loss of respect. Children no longer respect their parents, let alone other adults. They seem to take pride in how rude they can be, rather than being graded on how nice they treat others. And this type of delinquency is rewarded by their peers, perpetuating this spiritual sickness in society. But it shouldn’t be this way. The barometer by which we are measured should be love, not rudeness and disrespect. Jesus said in John 4:16, “So we have come to know and to believe the Love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Here, Jesus is telling us that the ultimate goal we should be seeking is God’s Love, not recognition from our friends or peers. The reward you receive from coveting the attention of others is only a temporary gain, while the Love of God is everlasting.
Jesus emphasized the importance of love; Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Wow! What a powerful set of principles. Not only are we commanded to love God, the one who created us and sustains us, with all our being, but we are also then told that it is just as important to love our fellow man with just as much earnestness and heart. With this, Jesus has left no room for equivocation in the matter: if we are to be Christ-like, we should love our brothers with the same amount of fervor we feel for God himself. You can’t serve God and mammon too.
We Christians have a lot of redeeming qualities, and none of us will ever reach perfection. But what we can do is make perfection our ultimate goal. This way, we are less likely to deviate from the path trod by Jesus. The best way to make sure we are heading in the right direction is to keep our hearts filled with love, seek the Lord in righteousness at all times.
It may seem difficult, but keep up hope and faith that Jesus will see you through. Jesus said in I Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Originally posted 2021-06-11 08:05:29.