Have we lost sight of the second greatest commandment which is to love one another? Jesus said in John 13:34, I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. “Love is of the heart. It is the fruit of the Spirit. The Bible says….. For God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5).
The Bible also tells us that faith works by love, you cannot study faith or healing or any other spiritual gift without studying love. The Bible tells us to earnestly desire the greatest gifts and graces. Although chapter 12 is about spiritual gifts by themselves, chapter 13 is about spiritual gifts without love. Here is what he says:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have 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. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless…..Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)
Paul says in chapter 14 that spiritual gifts like faith work with love. I will show you a still more excellent way one that that is better by far and the highest of them all–love. He says we should desire the special graces that the Holy Spirit gives especially that we may prophesy interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching but we should eagerly pursue and seek to acquire this love and make it our number one goal or aim. This is the first and principal commandment:
And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it and is this; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)
At the same love is not being nice. You cannot speak only nice things to people, even if what you are saying is false. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. (Verse 6) Look at that list there is nothing nice.
The reason why we tell others only feel good messages, even if what we are saying is not true is because we fear they might reject us. So who becomes the focus of our love? The people we are trying to tell the truth or us. If you really love and care about other people, you have to risk rejecting you as long as your motive is to please the Lord.
On the other hand you cannot be a harsh preacher. The love of God in your heart must motivate you, you must be patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong. Not everyone agrees with our perfect knowledge and that why Paul said that while knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church:
If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become as intimately acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary. (1 Corinthians 8:1-2 AMP)
Love gives attention to people. Love is an act of the will; it is this love that is commanded by the Lord. You cannot force someone to affectionately fall in love with someone else, but it is possible to tell someone to love a person with agape love—which is the love of God.
The reason why many of us believers have been divided over charismatic issues is that we lack agape love which is the sort of love that brings people together who have very different views on some issues. We choose to love one another in spite of our differences. Why? Because love is a choice and an act of the will.
A story is told by Jerome an early church writer, about the Apostle John in A.D. 90, by this time John was very old and they carried him into the church every week on a chair with poles through it. The church members would often ask him to speak. He would sit in the chair at the front and he’d just say, “Little children, love one another!
The next Sunday they would carry him into church and ask if he had a word for them. “Yes” he’d say, ” I’ve got a word for you today.” They would carry the chair to the front and he’d say “Little children, love one another!”
The next Sunday they brought him in and exactly the same thing happened. they began to think he was getting senile. Didn’t he realize that he kept repeating the same words? They finally went to the old man and said, “Master, why do you always say, “Little children, love another?” He answered: “Because it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”