How much do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? How much do you love your enemies? How do you show that love? Our love towards God, each other, and our enemies is more important than what we believe about any doctrinal matter because without love we are nothing.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) 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).
We can be completely right on every other Bible subject, but if we do not have love in our hearts and the spirit of servitude, then we are living life in vain. When Jesus was questioned about what the greatest commandment of the law was, He said that it was love – love for God and love for one another. Jesus could have pointed out the Day of Atonement, sacrifices, particulars in the layout of the tabernacle, the Sabbath, or any of the other commandments given, but he said love. God said, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). If this is what God desired under the Law of Moses, how much more does He desire this for us under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2)?
In the book of Philippians, Paul said,
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, (2) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (4) Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (5) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, (7) but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:1-7).
Does this describe you? Does this describe your attitude when dealing with doctrinal or personality differences? Jesus was willing to give Himself for us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:6-11). In Luke 15, this attitude was demonstrated in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). Jesus said, “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (Luke 15:5). Do you lay your brother on your back to bring him home? Do you do the same when they have some other spiritual or even physical need? That’s what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross, and as imitators of Him we should do the same.
Later in Philippians, Paul gave us an example of someone who literally worked themselves sick in serving other Christians. Paul wrote,
Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; (26) since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. (27) For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (28) Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. (29) Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; (30) because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. (Philippians 2:25-30).
Here we have a man who almost died because of his insistence on serving others, and yet most of us are not even willing to lift a finger to help another brother or sister in Christ. When we examine the attitude of the disciples of Christ in the first century, we will see a large contrast between how they treated one another and how the majority of Christians treat each other today.
Acts 2:44-46 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, (45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
While I am not suggesting that we need to sell all that we have today because the situation that they were in is different than what we have today, but I am saying that we ought to be willing to go that far for another member of the body of Christ. How much do you love your brother? Do you spend as much time trying to help others as you do disputing over doctrinal issues? This goes for me as well! While studying soteriology, pneumology, eschatology, etc. can be fun and is definitely important, all of those things are for the purpose of helping us to live in a way that God would have us to live. We are to treat each other with kindness, love, patience, and gentleness because of what God has done for us. These, however, are not passive actions that we perform when we happen to come across a situation that calls for those types of actions, but they are active actions that we must be diligent to perform. We must seek opportunities to show love towards others as Jesus went out of His way to show love towards us by dying on the tree.
Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (2) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (3) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
How much do you love? Are you diligent to show forth that love? I pray that we all are!