Determining what is a loving act and what is not is vital to living a Christ-like life.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
Building on this theme, Paul continues,
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Paul is building on the teaching of Jesus that to love God above all else is borne out in how we treat our fellow humans, His children (in the sense that we are all created by Him). To speak to another individual in a condemning manner or with contempt belittles that person and makes the speaker the judge of that person. Jesus said not to do that,
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
Notice the third part of this verse, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” We all must realize that we stand in need of forgiveness from the Father. He is ready to pour out His forgiveness on those who are in a position to receive that forgiveness. If we take a stance of judgment against our brother or sister, we bow up our backs and make ourselves hard. We are “out of position” to receive His forgiveness, which are mercy and grace. Jesus said it again,
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
Contemptuous attitudes segregate people into groups, which is a type of pecking order, or caste system. We have the “haves” and the “have nots.” Jesus would have none of it. This worldly way of thinking is not for the child of God. We are to love everyone as fellow children of God (in the sense of all being created by Him) and as potential brothers and sisters in Christ. Even their sin cannot separate us from them if they are working to allow Christ to free them from bondage–as we all are.
Rather than segregating everyone into “groups,” let’s work on everyone being united in Christ, making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We have “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (4:6).
Abba, when will we learn that You want us to love each other? I don’t think the problem is our wanting to love; I think it’s about HOW to love. As we look at the rest of 1 Corinthians 13, help us to see that loving others IS loving You. Amen.