We are told 12 times in the New Testament to love one another and love for each other is referred to six more times. Not only that, we are told to love our neighbor; and if that wasn’t command enough, we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves!!
What does it mean to love one another, and to love our neighbor? Book upon book has been written on the subject and we could spend days discussing it, but I think it is summed up in First Corinthians 13. I especially love the way the New Living Bible expresses it.
Love Is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable.
And it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
It is never glad about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out.
Love never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.
What should we do when we find ourselves not loving the way we have been commanded?
- We need to check our love for God. “We love God because he first loved us. Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:19.
- Confess our failure to the Lord. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness.”
Not judging others goes right along with loving them. Things are not always as they appear, and I have found that out the hard way. Even then sometimes I forget. (Confession is good for the soul.) When I was in Bible College, when we were going to have a test, we were often given some time to study together. One day I was studying with a fellow student named Jerry. I had no romantic interest in Jerry, but one of my friends, Genaah, had a crush on him. She was studying with another group of students. Another student, named Barb, was friends with both of us, and she was studying with the same group as Genaah. Barb brought out a bag of candy and passed it around to everyone except me.
I immediately assumed she was taking up an offense for Genaah, and judged that she was choosing this way to show her displeasure that I was studying with Jerry. My feelings were really hurt. I had no ulterior reason for studying with Jerry, other than trying to help him because he struggled with tests.
I eventually forgave Barb and didn’t hold a grudge against her, but I always thought she slighted me on purpose. Many years later, I had occasion to talk with Barb and I asked her about what had happened. She had no idea with I was talking about. It had simply been an oversight that the bag of candy was not passed my way, and there was no ulterior motive behind what happened.
I could have saved myself years of hurt feelings if I had not assumed what I thought was obvious, and handled things differently. I learned a valuable lesson but even then, sometimes things seem “so obvious” that I have been tempted to make a wrong call, and end up judging incorrectly. The best plan is to not judge at all as the Scripture says.