“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:12-13
Nothing will derail vision faster than disunity in the ranks. It is true of a business, sports teams, a family, and a church. How many times have we seen where a less talented but determined team pulled together and toppled the more talented, better financed, more popular, but ego-centered team? The Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on the value of “unity.” But Jesus makes it clear that love is the single most important commandment. An expert in religious law tried to trick Jesus in Matthew 22 by asking Him “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Verses 37-39 give us Jesus’ reply: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Colossians 3:14 (NIV) says, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Paul’s command would not be unnecessary if love were automatic or standard operating procedure for believers. It doesn’t work that way. There will always be disagreements and conflicts. If there is love in a family or in a church, it’s the result of deliberate effort to work through disagreements and hurt feelings. Unity is worth the effort. In the Colossians passage above, Paul assumes that in the church, there will be complaints against one another. Life in the church will not be perfect. We will need to work at maintaining and restoring loving relationships with one another. Love is not a luxury, but a Biblical necessity.
There are at least 55 direct commandments in the New Testament telling us to love one another. John 13:34-35 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 15:12, 17 says, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you…This is my command: Love each other.” And Romans 13:8, 10 adds, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law….Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Ephesians 4: 2 says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” And 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
The love talked about in these verses is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment which shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. The core of love is not emotion, but commitment. It’s not a commitment to make the other person immediately happy, but rather to seek the person’s best interests. Glorifying God is the highest good for every person. Thus, sometimes love has to gently confront the other person, seeking to help him or her grow to be more like Christ. Remember that unity flows from love and love unites the church in it’s mission.
- How is loving others more than a feeling?
- Demonstrated love for one another reveals a love for God. Agree or disagree and why?
- What are some practical ways for you to give others a taste of what the love of God is like?
- What’s one change you can make in your life to put more love into action?