Have you ever had those days where you just don’t like people? I know that I have them, and far more often than I should. Between the stories on the news, comments on the internet, drivers on the road, and customers in stores- we are bombarded with examples of people at their worst. It’s an easy reaction to become exasperated with the human race.
However, Jesus made it clear how we are to treat others. Very clear- Love each other. And he didn’t have any addendums to this. Nowhere did he say “Love each other, except when they cut you off on the highway.” Or, “Love each other when they are nice to you.” And especially, “Love each other if they are of the same mind as you.” Nope. Not even a little bit. Here’s the thing, love is a verb. It is an action. Many times love is viewed as an abstract, a feeling which cannot be quantified or explained. It’s not, it is a verb. And Jesus knew this. Jesus was telling us that we are to actively love one another. And, if you are wondering what that means, Paul spells it out for us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” I’m sure there were some hard eye rolls when I pulled out 1 Corinthians, the classic wedding verse. But if you look at this from a personal verb standpoint, it reads very different- My love for others is patient and kind. I show love for others by not being jealous or boastful or proud or rude to them. I do not demand my own way because I love others. I am not irritable to others and I keep no record of being wronged. Totally different, right? Jesus issued us this commandment, not for our good days, but for the days where we don’t like people. For the days when those little annoyances have piled up on us and we are ready to throw things at the cashier who is not paying attention and is taking forever.
We are to be patient and kind and NOT be irritable and demand our own way. Jesus knew that what he was commanding us to do was the opposite of what the world expects from us. It is the opposite of our instincts. It takes action. It takes a verb. And if we are to bring the light of Christ into this world, then we have to step up with every encounter we have. It means that we have to actively show love to all people, even when we may dislike them.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 NLT