If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, NLT)
The other day I heard one of the best explanations of the Old and New Covenants that I’ve ever heard. It boiled down to the New Covenant is based on a relationship with God through faith in Christ. And our marching orders are summed up in Mark 12:29-31 and truly summarized in John 13:34, So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
I love that—our marching orders are to love each other. Love does not mean that we say “anything goes.” Just as 1 Corinthians says, “Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” Truth is Christ and is only truly found in Him. True love cares and wants the best for others. But love is also kind.
My heart struggles with how to truly love others. When do we speak up about injustice? When do we simply pray? Our culture talks about boundaries and walking away from toxic relationships and teaches a type of forgiveness based only on selfishness and self-preservation. But I think love is something more. When we look at the example of Jesus Christ, we see that love is sacrificial. Love doesn’t give up on someone. However, there are times we must walk away and leave a person in the hands of God. We cannot rescue people or force people to become who they don’t want to become.
My best friend’s niece and her two beautiful daughters were murdered last week by the niece’s boyfriend.
My husband has been repeatedly betrayed by a family member.
In the face of these events, I struggle with how love would respond.
With my best friend’s family, I have been humbled by their loving response to the boyfriend’s mother. Some would condemn her or at least partially blame her. But they praised her for the loving grandmother she has been. She did not cause her son to do what he did. But when we are hurt or angry, we want to blame someone or find reasons for the unthinkable. Love has a different response.
With my husband’s family, forgiveness given repeatedly has been the loving response. However, to continue in a relationship that only causes our hearts to stumble and knowing that this person will continue to betray us every chance they are given, it seems that the most loving reaction is to withdraw fellowship from this person with the hopes that God will help them. I know God’s desire and plan is always reconciliation with Him. He commands us to at some point withdraw fellowship from those who claim to be Christ followers but habitually walk in ways that are contrary to His Word. I think we are at that point. If we don’t withdraw fellowship but keep on continuing like everything is okay, we are not helping this person, but hurting them.
Love is many things, but I don’t think there is anywhere that anyone says love is simple or love is easy. Love is hard.
This Valentine’s Day love carries a heavier weight than it has in many years. But I think I understand love a little more.
Love is our marching order.
Lord, help us know how to walk that out each day in each situation.