How important is love?
One could argue love is so important that not loving makes a mockery of God’s grace.
Here is what I mean:
In 2 Corinthians 6:1 Paul tells us “not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Then he starts to describe what that means. Paul begins by telling us all the hardships and suffering he has endured as a follower of Jesus (vv. 3-10). Those hardships include beatings, imprisonment and discouragement, just to name a few. He is making the case that the Christian life is a difficult life, requiring faithful endurance. Next, speaking to the Christians in Corinth as his own children (v. 13), Paul says, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us” (vv. 11-12). In essence, Paul is saying to the Corinthian believers, “I have loved you, but you have not loved me back.” That fact hurt Paul more than all the beatings and sufferings he had endured.
In context, then, if we who claim to follow Jesus are not reconciled to God, and if we are withholding our love and affection toward one another, we have “received God’s grace in vain.” Jesus is not asking us to sign up for troubles and hardships, but He is asking us to sign up for relationships. First and foremost, a relationship with Himself, but just as important are relationships with one another. The way we love God, whom we cannot see, is by loving others whom we can see.
Paul was making the same point in 1 Corinthians when he wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing” (vv. 1-3).
And of course, Jesus summarized it best by saying, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Nothing in the Christian life is more important than love.
My prayer today is, “Lord, help me love better.”