THERE ARE three things that the Bible says abide. They are faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these three is love. Yes, love is the greatest virtue that must be diligently pursued in the human societies. The thing which makes human beings unique and superior to animals is not their ability to reason but their ability to love. A person filled with love and lives by love is superior indeed!
Thus, the greatest commandment God has given to those who believe in Him is to love Him, and then also love their neighbours as themselves. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, who emphasised this commandment to a Pharisee, a lawyer. He had gone to Christ Jesus asking, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” The lawyer asked that question not because he wanted to seek truth but to test Jesus.
And Jesus full of love and wisdom said to him gently, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets,” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Unfortunately, these are the commandments many followers of Christ including some pastors have failed to do, obey, live by, act on or practise in their daily life situations. We say that we know and understand love yet we hate one another, cheat one another, defraud one another, betray one another, gossip about one another, belittle one another, malign one another and murder one another. These are obviously not acts of love but evil.
We Christians say that we are product of love yet we refuse to live a genuine life of love in our marriages, professions, careers, communities and nations to glorify God. This is because the intentions of the thoughts of most of us are evil continually. Thus, our communities and nations are distressed with hatred, murder, hurt, revenge, resentment, anger, rage, divorce, selfishness, selfish ambitions and the like.
There is no doubt that most of the problems troubling families, peer groups, schools, churches, neighbourhoods, governments and other agents of socialisation are caused by the absence of the expression of love. This means that the solution to promoting peaceful co-existence leading to development in our societies hinges largely on each human person loving his neignbour as himself. And Christian believers are expected to show leadership in this effort.
A person who says that he knows God means to say that he knows love, because God is love. Love is the greatest virtue. For this reason, Paul, the apostle, implores believers to pursue it. John also in 1 John 4:7-12 appreciates its relevance in relationships, so he charged the church, saying, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be propitiation for our sin. Beloved, if God so loved us we also ought to love one another. …if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
Christian leaders must show example in loving one another including their enemies. It is important to stress that God is not looking for mere preachers and hearers of His commandments; He is actually looking for doers of His Word. Those who hear or read God's Word but refuse to do them or act on them deceive themselves towards destruction.
The importance of living a life of love cannot be over emphasised in ministry. No Christian minister achieves great result without demonstrating love. Faith works by love. A giver gains nothing in the sight of God unless his acts of giving is inspired by love. Those who disregard this truth and go on ahead to speak in tongues end up becoming noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Also, a prophet is nothing unless his ministry is run by love for everyone.
Similarly, a pastor who cannot love his neighbour including his enemies as himself cannot minister in the perfect will of God. The will of God is that His servants love everyone without discriminating against anyone as God Himself gives rain and sunshine to both the righteous and the sinner. He loves sinners but hates their sins. Thus, those who understand the love of God learn to live at peace with everyone irrespective of their beliefs.
Love is a powerful virtue which makes a king abdicates his throne; it could move Christ Jesus to empty Himself of His divine privileges and take on the form of a servant. Love makes powerful enemies entangled in protracted disputes and wars lay down their weapons thereby promoting peaceful co-existence. This happens because “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
“It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all thing, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends,” (1 Corinthians 13:40-8). In fact, love is peerless and above everything. Love seeks the welfare and wellbeing of all. Love is the greatest, and it surpasses all.
Therefore, considering the inevitability of love in our walk with God and relationships with fellow human beings, we cannot help but fully embrace the encouragement of Paul, the apostle, to pursue love and live a life of love to promote peace, unity and development in our communities until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By James Quansah