“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
My heart has been broken over the last couple weeks as I, like many of you, spent time staring at my screen in disbelief. Innocent lives taken. Husbands, sons, daughters, mothers saying final goodbyes, their lives forever changed. As I tried to wrap my brain around what was happening I began to see other things that broke my heart as well. Trusted spiritual leaders, friends and neighbors taking stances and picking sides as we are all fed incomplete facts. Things said and posted that cannot be taken back. Division among good people, people I admire and respect. My heart weeps over the brokenness surrounding me. I began to pray and ask the Lord what can we do? How can we move forward? Over and over I heard, the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 ran through my head. We love to think of this chapter for weddings and rejoice when it’s a happy love, but Scripture matters even when it’s hard.
Christian love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. We can choose to be concerned with people’s well-being and treat them with respect, whether we feel affection towards them or agree with them. In John 13:35 Jesus tells us “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” As disciples of Christ we are either drawing people towards or away from Christ. The things we say, do, and post are either pointing people toward him or pushing them farther away.
The Message Bible states Matthew 5:43-47 like this:
You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
This kind of loving is hard to do. That’s why people notice when you do it. They know you must be empowered by a supernatural source. The greatest is love. If you look through the list in 1 Corinthians 13 of good things people did or could do, none of those things mattered if they didn’t have love. My pastor recently said in his sermon, “If you’re right with the wrong heart, you’re still wrong.”
Lines are being drawn. Chaos ensues. Don’t take the bait. While Satan would love to pit us against each other remember love is the key. We cannot grow spiritually while we hate others. In the end three things will last forever, but the greatest of these is love.