Jesus said, “and this is how you will be known as my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus also said, “if you love me you will obey my commandments” and He made it clear that the two greatest commandments were to “Love the Lord your God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and to Love our neighbor as ourselves.” In fact right after that statement He went on to say, “on these two commands do all of the Laws and the prophets rest.” What an amazing thing about our God that all of His commands revolve around love!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 God gave Paul the words to write concerning what this love looks like. Firstly in having Paul use the word “agape” for love, which means “love without condition,” then he goes on to give some characteristics of this love.
As I came to Christ I remember reading these words shortly after and wondering, “How is it possible for me to show this love to people!?!” A love that “keeps no record of wrong!” A love that “always trust!” You see… I was beaten, neglected and abused much in my childhood. In fact I remembered a phrase my mom said to me on one occasion as I read this passage the first time. Just after a severe beating she said, “I don’t care if you never come back or if you die on the side of the road somewhere.” I was 12 years old at the time and already had much reason to despise my family and surely had the right to hold an offense against them for the wrong they had done to me as this was one of countless of such incidences.
There I was as a young man reading these words given by a Holy God describing the Love He extends to us then saying if we don’t have this love we are like a clanging symbol. It was a humbling and awe inspiring moment in my life when the revelation of God struck me that I in and of myself could not show this love but if I would truly give all that I am to Him (including my past hurts and offenses) and die-to-self then this love would naturally flow from me.
Today I can say I am reconciled to my family and though they continue at times to do me wrong. I love them without condition, keeping no records of wrongs. I do this because my Lord asks it of me and I so want to please Him and have Him live through me. I can say that I love them… this statement is made by many in this world but with no understanding of what real love is as defined in 1 Cor. 13. I would ask the question of you… Do you love those in your life with whom you have had reason to hold offense? Is it “agape” love as defined by God in this passage?