It makes one to bear all things, believes all things well, and hopes in all things. This love does not fail. Paul said at the end of his teaching on love here: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is the greatest of Christian virtues.
Peter, the first disciple of Christ emphasised this in his epistle thus: “Above all, love each other because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4: 7-11).Apart from those in the Holy Bible thousands of Biblical scholars and Christians throughout the two millennia wrote on Christian teaching about love. G K Chesterton, one such scholars wrote, “Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.” I am not emotional while thinking about selfless and costly love! Loving one’s enemies, forgiving one’s foes is not easy at all. One needs to have divine encouragement and inspiration for this. Paul said, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone may possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us (Romans 5: 6-8). God loved us first yet when were unlovable sinners.
Love is seen in action. It is an enduring commitment. The Hebrew word to mean this is ‘hesed’, which means loving kindness. God forgave and continued to forgive his disobedient people time after time in the expectation that they would repent and return or come back to him. He showed them his loving kindness and forgiveness when they repented. We also need to repent for our sins and disobedience and come back to him for reconciliation. This is how we can be of use for God’s calling in our lives” to love him with all that have, and also to love others as we love ourselves. No easy matter. So, we need to be truly trusting and depending on his strength and guidance.
Our personal lives ought to be galvanised in God’s Agape love so that we can lead our lives for the good of others, we can do something for them sacrificially. Christian love does not know of partiality. It is for all, for anyone. The New Testament stories of the Good Samaritan and that of the Prodigal son narrated in Luke’s gospel respectively in chapters 10, 15 provides us with two classic examples for love and forgiveness.
God is love and kind: these are two of his greatest attributes. But he will punish sin. He loves people who come to him in humility and trust. No other qualification is greater than these for being acceptable to him.
Jesus told his disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciple, if you love one another” (John 13: 34-35). Before he told this to his disciples Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. He told them that if he, being their teacher did this for them, they ought to do among themselves. Jesus presented before them an example of humble service strikingly manifesting his love for the people he led. The commandment to love was known to them from the Old Testament. However, Jesus saw that it was not followed by the people. This love was mandated, but hardly ever obeyed. Jesus commanded them, and before he did. So, he himself set before his followers an example of the same! And it was new for them.
Paul exhorts followers of Christ to love God and one another thus: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery’, ‘Do not murder’, ‘Do not steal’. ‘Do not covet’, and whatever other commandments there may be have been summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”Lastly, let me conclude this article, which a very modest essay on the greatest and the most sublime theme of Love in the Bible quoting from the Markan version of what is quoted at the outset of the same concerning the two greatest commandments of God in the Bible: “ The most important one”, answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘ Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and a Church leader