Love. “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 It took me a long time to truly understand what love really is. It took me even longer to learn how to truly love others. It wasn’t until I re-dedicated my life to Christ a few years ago that my eyes opened. It was like a mist of deception and misunderstanding cleared and I saw clearly for the first time. I thought I knew what love was. I thought I knew how to love people, love my friends, love at all. But what I thought was love, although it wasn't bad, wasn't love. And it is because the world painted and has continued to paint love to be this conditional, intermittent feeling. A temporary sensation. When it comes to romantic love, a 'butterflies in the stomach' type of experience. Some of us have been tricked by 'love'. Many of us have grown up with our already predetermined idea of love, twisted further by parents or family members who we knew should have loved us a certain type of way, but they either abused that love, tainted it, or didn't show any at all. Many of us have had friends who claimed to have loved us, but when the going got tough, they got going. And now, we think we are capable of loving others as much as we love ourselves, but in reality, we can't even love past their mistakes or flaws. We watch shows like Love & Hip Hop and we think that because 'Love' is the leading word of the show title, it has to depict what love really is. It just has to depict how to properly love our spouse, or our friends, or our family. How to love one another. But it does the exact opposite. So what is true love and what does it have to do with anything? Love triumphs over everything.
Clarification: it is the greatest.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how much cars you have, how much people know you or how smart or educated you are. If you don’t have love you are nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 says it best, “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 could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I had 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.” To be clear. You can give to the poor and sacrifice your body and still not love people. We live in a day and age where people do things for recognition and to be seen. We live in a generation where we only help others, not because we actually love them, but we do it because we’re more concerned with what we will get in return; we do it for bragging rights. So yes, giving to the poor, sacrificing your body, being prophetic, acquiring all the knowledge in the world is great, but if you don’t have love, you literally have nothing. That's what the world hasn't fully understood yet. Without love, you have nothing. Literally, you have nothing. And if you are thinking that this is super OD or dramatic, well, it is because it is. This is very important to understand. Why? Loving others is the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us. In Matthew 22:36-40, one of the Pharisees ask Jesus, “What is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replies, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Remember, Jesus said this. Emphasis on ‘a second is equally important’. Meaning being the same in quantity, degree, or value. In 1 John 4:21, both commandments are wrapped together to simplify even further, “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” It's a must.
I’m sure many of us have read these scriptures or have heard them spoken before, yet, just didn’t really understood the depth of what it all meant. It just didn’t click. Truthfully, it didn’t for me at first either. And it didn’t for the a lot of people in the Bible. That’s why later on in John 13:34, Jesus, speaking to His disciples, says it again, but much clearer, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” In other words, us prophesying, speaking in tongues, giving to the poor, moving mountains, these things are not enough. They won’t prove to the world we are followers of Jesus Christ. (Remember Jesus saying in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles’. Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”) But us loving one another, THAT is what will prove that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. THAT is what we are asked to do. Simply. Jesus says this as clear as possible and never has He lied, stuttered or spoke in vain. So why is it so hard for people, especially children of God to love one another? We choose to love others when it is convenient. We love others as long as they don’t offend us. We love when it doesn't put us in an awkward position. We love when it’s easy for that person to love us back. Some of us don’t love at all. Unforgiveness has filled that function in our heart and deception has hindered us from understanding love. Our hearts have unknowingly hardened and what we THINK is love, is actually not at all. And how we think we are operating in true love, is actually that of a Pharisee. We claim to love God, yes. That is great. But we don’t love each other. Honestly, that isn’t even possible. We can’t as Christians or anybody claim to love God when we don’t love or fully love one another. In fact, the Bible says that if you do so, that you’re a liar. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20. And yes, ‘brother and sister’ refers to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also our literal brothers and sisters, our parents, our co-workers, strangers, our neighbors, everybody. And so if that’s really the case, if we are not loving one other but we’re claiming to love God, then we are blatantly disobeying the two greatest commandments Jesus gave us from Matthew 22. We are NOT loving God and we are NOT loving each other. This is not meant to be a mind trick. This isn’t to say that you’re terrible person or that you’re a monster. It is a journey to reevaluation and heart-checking. This is for understanding, revealing, straight from the word of God... But most importantly, this is to explain that GOD is love. He is the love we have longed for, we have searched for, that we need. He is the Creator of love, the creator of all things. And it's beautiful because He is not just the Creator of love, but He IS love. He is not just the idea of love, but He is love. He is the Father of love, the author, the Creator, He is love! Our salvation is an expression of His love. (John 3:16). His love is the purest and most steadfast that there is. And until we truly understand that, like, truly have the understanding of that, we won't be able to fully love. Love isn't something that derives from us naturally. it is radical. It is insane. It just doesn't make sense! We will never know how to completely love, we won’t fully understand agape love, selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, unless through Christ. The same love that made God send down His ONLY Son to die a brutal and terrible death so that we may have life, the same love that allowed Jesus Christ to lay down His life for us, knowing that we may still not love Him in years to come, but still, He did it because He loves us. More than we could ever think or imagine. We love because He first loved us. We’re able to love and be loved because of His love. The kind of love that God calls us to, it cannot be accomplished without first knowing God. 1 John 4:16, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. GOD IS LOVE. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” God is love. We all know 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, but try replacing the word ‘love’ in those verses with ‘God’. “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 13:8 When all is said and done, all that matters is love...