The phrase, “love one another” is found 13 times in the New Testament. Undoubtedly, it is very important to the fellowship of believers. Paul used the phrase twice, Peter once, and it comes from John’s writing 10 times — three times from Jesus’ own lips.
In Galatians 6, Paul is also telling his beloved converts just how important brotherly love is. First of all, he says, when a brother falls, it will be love that will enable you to reach down and help him up — to restore him to fellowship with God and the church. Bear with him in his weakness, he says and be tender — you might be next and “How do you want to be treated?”
We are also warned in 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11, that if love and forgiveness is not practiced in the church, Satan will have the advantage.
“To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Man was created a social being. This is so important that “love your neighbor as yourself” is included in the two basic and vital commandments Christ reiterated to the lawyer (Luke 22:39), second only to and like unto “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” It points out the Christian’s responsibility to the world.
If you have to condone or justify wrongdoing in people in order to love them, your love is conditional — it’s on the human level. It’s like saying, “I can only love you if, in my mind, I can somehow elevate you to a status of being ‘OK.’”
Do you think you can love the righteous only? That’s putting love in the realm you can handle from the human perspective. Love is not acceptance, it is not tolerance and it is not approval. It goes way beyond what we are able to do through our own volition. Love is not earned through works or right living. It must be given freely.
To love unconditionally, it doesn’t matter what state that person is in. The unconditional love doesn’t change — it is God’s love. He loves the sinner. That doesn’t mean the sin is acceptable. But it does mean that God loves that person enough to convict him, to forgive him and to change him. That’s why Christ died. He loves us too much to leave us in a sinful condition. That’s the love that Jesus taught.
We don’t have power to forgive sins, but love gives the option to forgive the hurt sin inflicts.
Forgiveness is a miracle — it is not a part of human nature. Unforgiveness will foster an attitude of vengeance and malicious retribution. Forgiveness is “opening your heart” to let Christ’s love flow through you.
So pass it on — glorify your Father in heaven.
It is not for our glory that we love, but letting Christ’s love shine through us — that is the great need in the world today.