Sunday Morning: Love Above All

It feels like all my life I’ve heard people talk about how there’s no love in the church. People have no love for each other anymore. Relationships struggle, friendships break, siblings fight. I remember growing up and listening to the adult troubles going on in the church, in the neighbor’s homes. Well when I became a teenager, I witnessed what the adults called lack of love for their children. And eventually it seemed like that’s all I ever heard, lack of love.

What is love anyways? Love . . . is not something we see like a cloud or a raindrop, but we can still see it. We can still feel it, we can still hear it. We see love when someone reaches out their arms to someone in need. We feel love when someone shows love to us. We hear love when someone speaks it to another. Words of love. Actions of love. Feelings of love. In my understanding these were all the things that we missed. All the things that no one shared anymore. I remember when something happened to someone from church; soon the whole congregation would know about it. I’d hear ladies talk about it and their results were always that there was no love anymore. Everyone’s conclusion for everything was that love didn’t exist anymore. I thought to myself sometimes, how does love have anything to do with this? How can one always blame everything on love? I thought it was stupidity, selfishness, unkindness, immature, so many reasons I thought it could have happened, but love was not one of them. How could everything always be because of love?

However, when I thought about it long enough, it made sense. Maybe absence of love was the reason. The reason for stupidity, for not taking the time to think about how your actions would make that person feel. The reason for selfishness, for not considering the person behind you. The reason for unkindness, for speaking rudely of someone. The reason for acting immature, for not taking a moment to remember what they Bible teaches us. Because what drives our actions to consider someone else, to worry about hurting someone, to worry about what you say to someone, love. What makes us want to please God? Love. Love for God, love for our neighbor, love for our friends, love for our enemy, love for doing the right thing. God sent his only son to die for us, he gave his son to die the most miserable death. Why? Because of love. Love is incredibly powerful.

No wonder why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 that love is above all. He said though he gives his body to be burdened but has not love . . . he has nothing. To me that stands out especially, because one would think, “Oh I’m giving my body to be burned that makes me a very kind and brave person.” But if we do that without love, then we did nothing. We did not leave a brave legacy, a story to inspire, a story to make someone smile, we left nothing. Then he goes on to say that though he gives all his money to the poor and has not love he has nothing. So, though I write a thousand stories, I publish hundreds of books in five hundred different languages, and I have not love, I’ve done nothing. Nun of that would ever matter to anyone . . . if I didn’t do it with love. I’d soon be forgotten without ever reaching out to anyone.

Do you recall that one part in the Bible where a widow, working hard to provide for her son, gives two very small copper coins in an offering? And Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” Jesus explained that “the others all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live.” (Mark 12:43-44) Why do you think that widow gave all her money? Not because she wanted to show off, she had no money to show off. She needed that to live. Perhaps it was because she felt someone else needed it more, perhaps she felt God calling her to do so. Whatever her reason, she wanted to do so because of love. The love for others who needed it more, the love for God, to do the best she could. All the others who gave so much more money were soon forgotten. When we read that story, we don’t think of all the other people that gave, we think of that one window. The woman who gave with love.

So, if we set up programs in the church—anywhere, because we want to change the world around us; we set up Bible studies, fundraisers for the poor, groups meetings for the youth, and we fail to do it with love then . . . will it work? If we can’t show love to our neighbor while doing so . . . will it help the one we’re trying to help? Or will it bring us down as well? When we start something new, others want to see if we believe it ourselves, if we practice what we’re trying to teach them. And if we don’t . . . they’ll walk away. It won’t help. Precious time wasted. Would you listen to a preacher that didn’t act out what he preached? Would you listen to a teacher that didn’t do what she asked you to do? Would you listen to your parents that didn’t act the way they wanted you to act? If we want to work for God, then we must do it with love. Love God; love our neighbor. As teachers, as preachers, as parents, as siblings, as grandparents, as wives, as husbands, as writers, as artist, as employers, as bus drivers, as road instructors, as doctors, as nurses, as sales men—no matter our position we’re influencing someone, we’re teaching someone something. No matter what we do . . .  do it with love.

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