As a Christian, you should be characterized by love, just as God is characterized by love. 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” In fact, the two greatest commandments are to love. Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” You may think of love as an emotion, as a tender feeling for someone. While you may have tender feelings towards the one you love, the love you are commanded to have is a decision of your will.
Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” You decide to be longsuffering and kind. You decide not to be envious or proud. You decide not to be rude or to seek your own. You decide not to be easily provoked or to think evil. You decide not to rejoice in iniquity but to rejoice in the truth. You decide to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things. When you make the decision to love someone, that decision will govern your actions and your attitude relative to that person.
In the Bible, you are specifically commanded to love your neighbor (Mark 12:31), to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44), to love your wife (or husband) (Ephesians 5:25), and to love your fellow Christian (John 13:34). If you do not love in each of these relationships, you have violated the command of God and are a sinner that needs to repent! Granted, in each of these relationships it may at times be very difficult to love the other person because of the way he or she acts or because of offenses you have suffered from them. No one said it would always be easy, but this is what God asks you to do. It helps me to separate the sin from the sinner – to love the person but not love the offenses that are committed – to see the person as a soul that is precious to God and needs His love and my love, regardless of the sin committed. If you are successful in your love under difficult situations, you will be very different from the people of the world who only love those who love them. Matthew 5:46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
Let us concentrate on your relationships with those who should be close to you. This includes your fellow Christians. If you are married, then this will include your spouse. As parents, this will include your children. As a son or daughter, this will include your parents and your siblings. Your love to those close to you should be without hypocrisy. Romans 12:9a “Let love be without hypocrisy.” 1 John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” That means that you don’t pretend to love when you really have animosity or hatred. You don’t have a part-time love that loves when they do what you like but you don’t have love when they do things you do not like. You don’t just say you love them but you show your love by your actions. Colossians 3:13-14 “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” You don’t end the relationship when they offend you, but you continue to love and you are forgiving. As you continue to love, there will be a strong bond between you. You will be knit together in love (Colossians 2:2). You will develop kind affection for them; you will give them preference (Romans 12:10). You will gladly serve them (Galatians 5:13).
I encourage you to develop greater love in your life. Make the decision to love as God has asked you to love. Let you actions and your attitudes show that you have genuine love. 1 John 4:10-11 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”