Love can be communicated through a variety of ways. A simple tap on a friend’s shoulder is already a sign of love. The warm hands that you hold with affection is another. The quality time you spend keeping someone company is indicative of your willingness to dedicate a part of your life to theirs, which is also another expression. Because of love, we experience the bliss of being human. Such emotion is the reason we give pieces of ourselves to others so we could nurture relationships with them.
But, more than the physical expressions, one unparalleled story of love can be found in the Bible. As corrupted beings, humans have fallen short of God’s grace—sin has spread like a virus and caused His creations to lose their path. The land He created was thrown into chaos. Being an all-powerful God, He could have easily destroyed the sin-driven world and created another one free from sins using the power of His words. But He didn’t. Instead, He loved us even more. His hatred of sin has inflicted the curse of death on humans, but as a God of love, justice, and mercy, He would not allow the creations created with a likeness of His image to wind up in eternal damnation.
In the classic and most powerful verse found in John 3:16, we are constantly reminded that God had the choice not to send His son to redeem mankind. But because He loves us, He gave everything, even His precious Son, to rebuild us from brokenness. God has shown a true mark of love that no human-being can ever match. In other words, we are overflowing with His love.
Now, the question is: have we given just a portion of it to others?
Take a look at your surroundings. Do you see that co-worker whom you dread to see every day? Has it been your habit to ignore the beggar you see in the streets on your way to work? Can you walk up to your enemy and greet him or her with a pleasant smile? Do you boss your subordinates around? Do you shun people just because their views are different from yours?
If we do any of these, then perhaps it’s time to reassess the way we live our lives. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us the spiritual context of love:
First, it is patient. It is about tolerating the mistakes of an individual but not condoning it. For example, kids have a natural tendency to commit mischief every now and then. We try to correct their misdeeds, but they will be bound to repeat the same act over and over. But did it ever cross our mind to give up on them, stop raising them, and leave them to the local orphanage? No, because we love them. Same thing applies to older people. When we try to understand the point of view of others, we become more considerate and more forgiving toward those who hurt us. Often you would hear, “ikaw naman ang may mas malawak na pang-unawa, kaya intindihin mo na lang.” You want to avoid fights, and you never intend to inflict emotional pain on people just to show that we are displeased with them.
Second, it is kind. Jesus was constant in His demonstrations of kindness. He healed the sick, stopped the mob from stoning an adulterer, cast out demons from the possessed, and fed the hungry. He gave His life to save us without demanding anything in return. His suffering on the cross was for OUR sake, not His own. In the context of humanity, kindness may refer to sharing God’s blessings and forgiveness without expectations. We are merely custodians of His grace. We don’t have to worry about running out of resources, as His grace alone is infinite.
Third, it is humble. The most common trait among broken relationships is pride. And it is also the reason why these relationships are still cracked. Mastering humility requires us to forgive people. After all, we lose nothing when we forgive others. In fact, we first received it from God for free, and Jesus Christ made the payment in our place.
Next, it is virtuous. It does not rejoice at wrongdoings. It loves the sinner, but hates the sin. As humans, it is our duty to love fellow humans, but loving them doesn’t include accepting their erroneous acts. If our parents had to resort to punishment as a form of discipline, it meant they wanted us to realize that we could have ended up so much worse if we had continued committing mistakes. They did not want our paths to go astray, because they love us.
And lastly, it is perseverant. It endures all things. Christ put Himself to endure on the cross, when in fact we should have been the ones punished instead of Him. But He endured the pain, simply because He loves us. Similarly, if we love God, then the love should manifest in the love that we give to our brothers and sisters. Jesus said to His disciples: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)
Remember, what we do to our neighbor is also a clear reflection of what we would do to God. If we love them, then we already did the same to the Lord. It is impossible to love God if we cannot bring ourselves to love our brethrens first.
(Inspired by the speech of Bulacan Area Manager Mr. Jose Archie Cruz during the Corporate Fellowship on February 1, 2017)