The Greatest Command

Sam Petitfils 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable”  1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Sometimes we have to review basic teachings and build on fundamentals. Jesus identified “love” as the greatest command, but have we allowed the world to define that term for us? Let’s look at the key terms from these verses that define biblical love:

Love is patient. . .This means love leads us to endure much for the sake of Christ, and to continue strong in the faith. Biblical patience does not simply mean putting up with inconveniences, but to continue living for Christ.

Love is kind. . .Love respects people as made in the image of God and treat them accordingly. The believer filled with God’s love interacts with others in a gracious manner.

Love does not envy. . .God sees to it that both blessings and trials are administered to us according to His infinite wisdom. Yet sometimes we find ourselves envying others for something they have that we lack. When we envy others we question God’s good care and provision for us.

Love does not boast. . .is not arrogant. . .People filled with love need not parade their great learning or accomplishments. They seek to do God’s will and credit Him for any recognition they might receive.

Love is not rude. . .We witness in our day an increasing lack of manners and common courtesy. Love leads us to polite behavior toward those in and outside of the church. We do not dismiss others nor do we seek to dominate conversations. Love is, after all, not rude.

Love does not insist on its own way. . .Perhaps this trait is the hardest to come to grips with. We Christians have a strong belief system and we base our faith on the word of God. We should not yield on these things. But what about other matters of preference? A good heart searching will probably reveal we often place ourselves above others (see Philippians 2:3).

Love is not irritable. . .Here Paul speaks of anger. Spirit controlled Christians possess long fuses and do not easily “pop-off.” To be honest, the angry person displays a level of foolishness that we should steer clear from. Those who often lose their tempers do not walk in love.

Love is not resentful. . .Good accountants keep accurate records of business transactions in order to maintain good books. Unfortunately we, too, sometimes keep ledgers and records of offenses committed against us. We want to settle accounts with them and strike back. Such a spirit operates not from God’s love, but from personal revenge. If God forgave us of our sins, we should forgive others (Ephesians 4:32).

We could have written more, because the Bible has much to say about love. The world needs a good dose of Christian love, and the church needs to operate in an environment of love. May God bless His people with love the spills over to all who come into contact with it.

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