Why does it often seem like hate is so much easier to do than love? We love to hate mostly by the way we disparage others we don’t like or understand or even know. We love to gossip (another form of hate) and tear people down, especially if it will benefit us in some way. We’ve become a nation of “National Enquirer” on steroids, peering into others’ lives and judging them accordingly. And we are not very good at minding our own business, either. No, we love making other people’s business our own, even it if requires stretching the truth or lying about them. And, we only like those folks we want or choose to like. And love (genuine love) gets lost in the shuffle.
So what does genuine love look like? I’m glad you asked. It looks just like this:
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.
Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13).
Hmmm . . . on a scale of 1 to 10, we hardly even rank much of the time. Judging others and gossiping about those we know or don’t know has become the great American pastime. And as long as we aren’t one of those folks being gossiped about or judged, anybody else is fair game. But love? Genuine love? Not so much . . . .
Jesus Christ (see the Gospel of John) came to break that curse, but it seems, even among many folks who consider themselves to be Christian, that his message isn’t getting through very well. We can’t “be the message” if we don’t love others, and that means ALL others. We can’t “be the message” if we gossip about others or try to do harm to them in any way (especially if it will benefit us by doing so). Unfortunately (and far too frequently), we’d rather follow the gossip even when the source of that gossip is often rotten to the core. And who checks out the real source anyway? And if money is involved, watch out. We can be a very greedy bunch. And, we can manage to justify just about anything if we want it bad enough. And if we can find others to follow us, the more the merrier. Pied pipers are everywhere nowadays and they are singing the tune we want to hear.
Funny how it just doesn’t fit in with what Jesus had to say about loving others (all others), doing no harm to them, and living at peace with them. We rarely even consult with I Corinthians 13 anymore as to what real, genuine love looks like, and it’s to our detriment.
Duplicity. We live it, we breathe it, and we are convinced that others can’t see it in us. Whether they can or they can’t, God can see it. And therein lies the problem. We don’t take God seriously. But then, we don’t take sin seriously, or repentance seriously, or much of anything or anyone else seriously if others get in the way of what we want. We can destroy others with our words and actions and we don’t even think twice about doing it, either.
We sing songs like “Our God Reigns” when in reality most of the time we reign over our own lives and ask God to bless us in the process. We tell Him what we want, instead of following His lead. And we have it entirely backwards. When we put ourselves and our wants first we ignore the basic tenet of Christianity, which is to serve others, and do no harm to them in the process. Real Christianity is not self-serving . . . .
And it’s not about us and what we want . . .
It’s about God and what He wants . . .
Period . . . .
“‘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.”
~Jesus (Matthew 33:37-40)
YouTube Video: “Our God Reigns” by Brandon Heath:
Photo credit here