By: Sabrina Peters
It’s a paradox to confess how much you “love God,” but then dislike (or even despise) people. Worse yet degrade, criticise and or even condemn someone based on their beliefs, preferences or shortcomings.
And by people, I mean everyone – mum, dad, partner, sibling, boss, co-worker, stranger, friend. That’s the thing – no one is exempt. We are called (no, commanded) to love our neighbours in the same way we love our God.
1 John 4:20 says “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
Ultimately, the way we treat others demonstrates how much we really love God.
The way we accept others exemplifies the way God has accepted us through Christ. The way we forgive others demonstrates how much we truly understand the weight of what we have been forgiven for. The way we disagree with someone with a different point of view says a lot about our spiritual maturity and understanding of God’s grace.
Side note: Love and acceptance don’t always equal support and agreement. There are people in my life (close and distant) that I choose to love and value, although I disagree with parts of their behaviour. It is a fallacy to believe that I cannot love you if I do not condone your behaviour.
Regardless, love is the mark of true faith, true Christianity.
And it is so much more than a word. Love is a verb. It’s an action. An outworking.
It’s making time for those around you.
It’s being there for a grieving friend.
It’s praying for a sick stranger.
It’s giving of your time and treasure.
It’s being gracious with your closest family.
It’s serving passionately His bride, the Church.
It’s fighting against evil and injustice.
It’s using your words to build up and empower, not cut down or criticise.
It’s being compassionate to those you don’t agree with and continually showing and sharing the good news of JESUS.
The bible tells us in Romans 2:3-4 that it’s His kindness that leads man to repentance. Not his correction, anger or even conviction. But his kindness! Kindness defined simply means the quality of being generous, caring, affectionate towards you. How incredible, that the God of the universe draws us in not by demand, but by a gentle invitation.
At some point, people need to make the choice to respond to this divine invitation and accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour. But that’s their responsibility. Love and patience is ours.
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
God’s number one priority will always be people, and His mode to reach and restore them will always be the demonstration and proclamation of the gospel.
Let me leave you with the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13.
1 CORINTHIANS 13 THE PASSION TRANSLATION (TPT)
If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge,
And if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offence. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.
Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.
When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
For now, we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all.
So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.
I fall short on so many of these regularly, but man I pray God’s heart would be my heart. I hope that my actions, not just my words would demonstrate His gospel. Because seriously, who wants to be a clanging cymbal?
Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters.
About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God & sex.