“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” — John 13:34
Many of you may remember the Love Is…cartoons from the 1970s. It depicted a boy and a girl drawn nude (with no private parts showing.) They had sentiments like “Love is never having to say you’re sorry, having his picture on your mirror, taking one day at a time.” These cutesie cartoons had some light sayings and also some meaningful sayings. Though we may know of a cartoon that answers the sentence “love is…” I hope we are even more familiar with the scripture that states “Love is….” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has a long list of what love is. We probably remember this passage from weddings. Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy or boast, it is not proud and the list goes on.
We have access to lists of what love is, but the scripture I started out with may make love a little more challenging. We have been given a command to love one another as God has loved us. That makes love about more than cutesie phrases and also more than loving your spouse because they read Corinthians at your wedding, it means loving one another. It means loving all the people you come in contact with each day whether you choose to or not. It means loving the neighbor who runs their chainsaw before you wake in the morning, it means loving the person who is tailgating you when you drive to town and it means loving the person who yells at you when you accidentally bump into them in a store. Because we are loved by the most high, we also need to love others, even them. In order to do that, we need to stop and consider them and their possible circumstances and assume the best of that individual. Instead of being offended by someone, we need to have compassion for them. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32
What does that look like? Instead of being angry at your neighbor waking you, have compassion for him that he has so much work to do that he has to start before dawn. The lady riding your bumper even though you are driving 5 miles above the speed limit? She may have received a call to get to the hospital as soon as possible. The angry person in the store may have just lost his job and is there to cash his last paycheck. In all instances, the truth is that we don’t know why others act the way they do, but we are commanded to love them.
We need to let go of petty offenses that are offered by others and put those offenses behind us. Our calling to love is greater than the offenses behind. We are called to love others. Love is….giving the benefit of the doubt.