by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
Yeah, I know, I know. You just survived Valentine’s Day and have already put it behind you, and now you’ve somehow ended up here, reading a blog about love. It may be enough to make some of you sick. Well, let me tell you up front that you have no reason to fear. I promise that this blog has nothing to do with cupid, and I won’t be even a little bit schmoopy. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s begin. Shall we?
What I want to talk about is what is sometimes referred to as philos love, or brotherly love. I will admit that I originally thought about writing a Valentine’s Day blog with the takeaway being that God is our ultimate, eternal Valentine. But then life, and therefore my thought process, took a different turn.
It started when a friend of mine posted on Facebook about how saddened he was that it seemed so many had forgotten what Jesus said in John 13, specifically verse 34. And just so we’re all on the same page, here’s what that verse tells us: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
I was deeply struck by the sadness behind the post. How sad, I thought, that a follower of Christ seemed to be so hurt by something that he felt the urge to reach out to fellow believers and remind them of this scripture—a scripture, I might add, that we should already be living by in our day-to-day lives.
And then in church this morning, my pastor spoke on love. And as he was speaking, these words flashed up on the screen: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35)
He went on to point out (and I’m paraphrasing here) that those verses don’t say that they will know we are His disciples by the church we attend or by the people we heal or by the Bible studies we lead or by any other number of things that we so often think “prove” we are His. No, it says that they will know we are His disciples by the LOVE we have for one another.
You see, my friends, love is important. No, it’s more than that. It’s a necessity.
During his sermon, my pastor also addressed 1 Corinthians 13, which is often referred to as “the love chapter.” I have read this chapter countless times. In fact, some of it was read during my wedding ceremony. And yet, as I heard the familiar words this morning, something struck me at my core. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve never fully grasped the words or if it just had new meaning for me this morning, but the first verses are a must-read.
They state: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3)
Now think about that in the context of the passage in John I noted earlier. Go ahead. Take your time. Scroll back up and read them both again. I’ll wait, because this is important.
What I want you to understand, and what I have to often remind myself, is that it all hinges on love. All of it. Now please don’t misunderstand. There is but one way to the Father, and that’s through His Son. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” But the way people know we are His, the way the world identifies us is through the love we show. So much so, in fact, that we’re told that we can do amazing things and live incredible lives of faith, but all of it is for naught if we are lacking love.
It’s a sobering reminder of how important it is to show kindness and compassion, isn’t it? Let’s all do ourselves a favor and stop and think next time before we act in a way that is less than loving. After all, it’s through that very love that the world sees we are children of God.