Unsurpassed love 

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Unsurpassed love

Writing a letter to Christians, Peter says that above everything else they should cultivate and practise fervent love for each other. To pursue love is commanded above all other virtues. When Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, he notes that faith, hope and love are all things that remain “but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The Bible also teaches that we should love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). That’s not easy because most of us, if we are honest, are pretty fond of ourselves, and neighbours can be a mixed bag. 

But love is the oil that lubricates the workings of human relationships. Love is what allows us to do to others as we would have them do to us. Love is the motivation for thinking more about the things of others than about those of ourselves. Love banishes fear, promotes tolerance, engenders understanding, motivates charity and forgives when wronged. Love covers a multitude of sins. 

Lastly, and certainly most challenging, is the instruction, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Surely this is going beyond the pale. Corrie Ten Boom, the Christian holocaust survivor, met one of her Nazi tormentors at an event in post-war Germany. The German officer, who had converted to Christianity after the war, approached her at the back of an auditorium where she had been speaking about the love of God and asked for her forgiveness. Corrie describes how she hesitated for what seemed like an eternity before extending her hand in forgiveness. On contact she experienced a rush of divine love coursing through her arm like an electric current. How did she bring herself to extend this grace and forgive the unforgivable? In her own words, quoting the Apostle Paul, “the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).    

What kind of person loves everyone in their local church, their neighbours and their enemies? What kind of God demands what we can surely never supply? Where is the resource for this kind of love?  

Galatians chapter 5 verse 22 gives us our answer: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness . . .”. 

This is a supernatural love that has, at its source, the Holy Spirit, who lives in every follower of Jesus. Those who have been forgiven much forgive much and those who have been loved unconditionally and exuberantly by God should love others in the same way. How much has God loved us? John chapter 3 verse 16 tells us that “God SO loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is a love that cannot be surpassed and it is the kind of love the Holy Spirit produces in believers in Christ.