“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 things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I write this days after the terrible shooting in Las Vegas in which almost sixty people lost their lives and over five hundred people were wounded by an evil person. This tragedy took place just one week after another gunman walked into the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, TN, and killed a single mother of two and wounded several others. These shootings are just the latest in a long line of tragedies and divisive actions which make the times in which we live very troubling indeed.
Friends, godly love is the solution to our troubles. “Love” is a word we tend to throw around without really stopping to think about or put into practice its meaning. I call on us all to do that now by looking at the biblical definition of love shown above. If both Christians and non-Christians would put into practice each tenet of the Bible’s definition of love as shown in Corinthians with all whom we come into contact, we would very readily find that same love to be the answer to our troubling times.
For example, the Bible says that godly love is kind. That kindness by itself would cause all acts of violence such as the aforementioned shootings to cease, since kindness demands that we would all treat each other the way we ourselves would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Such universal adherence to the kindly conduct prescribed by the Golden Rule would also exterminate all racism, bigotry and discrimination. Applying the other tenets of the godly love shown above would only further solve the division amongst us if they were universally applied.
To illustrate, think of the recent racial controversy at a Nashville religious university in which the president of the college offended African-American students whom he invited to his home by serving them “southern comfort food” with a cotton-stalk table centerpiece and then initially dismissing their expressed concern over that, prompting them to take to social media with their grievance and then to national news. Looking at the above scripture, what if the patience, kindness, humility and respect of godly love had been in place by all parties from the very beginning? There would have been no initial dismissive behavior by the president and no lack of patience on the students’ part with their perception of his arrogance that would then lead them to make the problem public to the world by going online. Love’s humility and respect would have also kept the problem from being exacerbated by all the profane and insulting online comments made by many in the days since. That would have gone a long way towards solving the problem.
Think also of the recent NFL National Anthem controversy in light of the tenets of love shown above. If everyone on all sides of the issue chose not to insist on their own way nor be irritable or selfish, how could the controversy survive? What would happen if everyone chose to rejoice with the truth instead of wrongdoing with every allegation of wrongdoing by anyone? How could assumptions of guilt be made? If everyone cared about nothing but obtaining and acting justly and fairly upon proven truth (John 7:24), would we have as many riots? Would racism and bigotry exist?
With “all things” God says love “bears,” “believes,” “hopes” and “endures.” We all let each other down, disappoint and hurt each other because we’re all human and fallible. Yet how much better it would be if we all chose to bear with and endure each other, give each other the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst, and genuinely hoped for the best for everyone and actively worked to help each other make those hopes a reality! How better would our culture be!
I would be naive to think that everyone will practice godly love towards everyone. Yet more can become like this than we think if Christians both show Jesus’ love and teach His gospel to more souls lost in sin.