The season of love is here, and most of us are thinking of ways to show others how much we love them.
A teacher colleague always waited until the day following Valentine’s Day to buy his wife candy because the store had a BOGO sale that day. His argument was that she got two boxes of candy, and her argument was that her gift was the day after Valentine’s Day. This happened so often that I suppose they agreed to disagree and continued with the process.
Love is a major theme in scripture. We’re reminded in the 25 most important words of the Bible that “God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16). True love always gives, and God set the example in giving sacrificially for our benefit.
Once we commit to follow the Lord, we also commit to love others. As Simon Peter wrote, “see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
The older I get the more I see brokenness in families. I’ve known brothers and sisters who harbored animosity, and parents who have nothing to do with their children. Sometimes parents practice “tough love” when children are chemical abusers, but most often the brokenness I’ve seen is due to inheritance issues that accentuate human greed. A little bit of money can bring out the worst in human character.
I’ve known two brothers and two sisters from another family, who worshipped every Sunday in the same church while despising one another.
In our spiritual family, too, love must be supreme. We can disagree over carpet, paint and furniture, but there should be no question about our love for one another.
The words of the Apostle John are sobering: “He that loves not his own brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
A pastor I knew befriended a church drop-out, and the drop-out told his story. He was in a business meeting when the pastor tried to encourage the church to buy a bus to pick up neighborhood children for Bible study. This was in the era of church bus ministries when this was common. The meeting became heated when some members objected to spending money for such ministry. In the middle of the meeting, a man leapt to his feet and shouted, “Shut up, preacher! Shut up!” The drop-out told my friend that this was the kind of thing one might see in a bar but shouldn’t see in a church.
It was said of the early church by their critics, “Behold, how they love one another.” We should strive for this same kind of criticism.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.