ODJ: love like this

February 14, 2014 

READ: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 

If I could speak all [languages], but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong (v.1).

When my son was learning to read he realised he could decipher street signs—especially speed limit signs. Thrilled with his new skill, he would call out from the backseat, “Mum, the speed limit is 30—it’s 30!” The first couple of times this happened, I thought it was cute. The next few times, I found it tolerable. Each announcement after that became more trying, even though I knew he was attempting to be helpful.

Sometimes I think Christians have the same effect on people who aren’t walking with God. We spew repeated warnings, but only end up exasperating the other party. We can avoid this mistake by heeding the apostle Paul’s words: “If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). While barking out advice will send people away with hands over their ears, loving communication can open doors . . . and ears.

Without love, godly advice may seem preachy and—worse yet—insincere. Paul said, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. . . . Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other” (Romans 12:9-10, emphasis added). Honouring others may mean giving them space, or trying to understand their perspective even it doesn’t match our own. It could mean performing acts of kindness or speaking words of appreciation.

As Christians we’re not only called to care, we’re empowered to do this through Jesus’ love for us. He said, “Love each other, just as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Because He loves us deeply, sincerely and eternally, we can lovingly share this kind of affection with the people who need it the most. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Read Galatians 6:1 to see how gentleness and humility can help someone who is overcome by sin. Look up Proverbs 15:2 to see the effect of wisdom combined with words. 
Paul said that faith, hope and love would last forever, but that love was the greatest. Why is this true? How might you show someone genuine love this week?