Keep Loving One Another Earnestly

The local church is often pictured as a family in the New Testament. Christians in the city of Ephesus were described by the apostle Paul as members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). They were brothers and sisters in Christ who shared a common Father (Eph. 6:23). What was true in Ephesus is true today. Christians are members one of another (Eph. 4:25). We are a family.

How should members of the family of God relate to one another? There are many instructions within the word of God concerning how Christians should treat each other. Love must be the foundation of all our relationships. Paul wrote, “Let love be genuine…love one another with brotherly affection” (Rom. 12:9-10). We are to bear with one another “in love” (Eph. 4:2). Peter instructed Christians to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). “Above all,” he wrote, “keep loving one another earnestly” (1 Pet. 4:8).

Loving one another with devotion and sincerity is sometimes difficult. We spend little time with one another outside the walls of the meeting place so that we barely know members of our spiritual family. Personalities sometimes clash and brethren find it hard to get along with each other. Some do not think about what they say and the feelings of others are wounded. Unkindness and selfishness often dwell within people making it very hard to be devoted to them in love. How can we make sure that our love for others is sincere? How can we make sure that our love for others continues even when they make it difficult for us to seek out their best interest? The word of God supplies several answers to these questions.

Jesus’ instructions concerning our behavior toward our enemies is helpful. He said, “…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those, who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 2:27-28, 31). Love, goodness, blessing, and prayer should characterize our behavior toward those who hate, curse, and abuse us. Love, goodness, blessing, and prayer should also be present in our relationships with our brothers in sisters in Christ.

Pride and selfishness often make it impossible for love to exist and thrive within a relationship. Humility, however, is the fertile soil where love can grow and increase. Members of the household of God are instructed to clothe themselves with humility (1 Pet. 5:5). Further, Paul wrote, “…but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others “ (Phil. 2:3-4). Genuine love abounds when family members are ruled by humility.

How important is having love for our spiritual family? John wrote, “…whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21). Love cannot be dismissed because someone is difficult to get along with. God’s word is clear. We must keep loving one another earnestly. Jay Taylor