Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble (Ps 41:1)
A new commandment I give you: love one another (Jn 13:34)
This is the message you heard from the beginning: we should love one another (1 Jn 3:11)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 Jn 3:16)
Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 Jn 4:7-8)
If anyone says ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen …… whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 Jn 4:20-21)
When eager to confront a grandson’s irritating habit, I am sometimes told by my daughter that, in bringing up boys, ‘you have to choose your battles’. Living in the same house, apparently, you quickly realise that the finger may be up the nose but it’s well down your list of priorities. When you’ve grown up believing that certain standards are inviolable, it’s hard to be patient, or see things from a different perspective: surely there’s only one ‘right’ way to do things?
When we read the Bible, we have to be careful not to look through the lens of our own preconceptions. Have you noticed how people can read the same Bible as you, and come to different conclusions? Or no conclusions at all? And how annoying it is when they simply can’t see the truth that’s staring them in the face? What’s the matter with them? Yet through the pages of history there have been countless examples of sincere believers losing their liberty, or their life, when they dared to read God’s Word differently from everyone else.
How do I understand the verses on love, listed above? Love my neighbour? Of course I do – as long as he doesn’t come over my fence, or play his horrible music too loud! Or that fellow-shopper who seems to think she has a right to jump the queue – how can I put her in her place (in love of course)? And what about that church member who’s got a bee in his bonnet about something and seems to think if you don’t shout about it from the housetops then you really don’t deserve to be called a believer at all?!
I love my grandsons, and would love to see them developing in every way just as I think they should. But nothing will stop me loving them anyway. Fortunately, none of my imperfections are going to stop God from lavishing his love on me.
And other people’s shortcomings, or differences, must not be allowed to inhibit my love for them. After all, isn’t that how I show my love for God?