Sunday Word BY PROSPER TINGINI
Let us first get some teachings from St Paul on what love is not about.
To both the religious leadership and all others, he wrote (1 Corinthians 13:1-13): “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (like two brass plates being hit against each other to produce noisy sounds, meaningless). And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith that can remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
He means to say if you are endowed with all the spiritual gifts in terms of religious attributes, but have no love, then you are a waste.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (in part) he goes on to write on what love is. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
He compares the endurance of love with the other gifts of the spirit. “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away
. . . So faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (verses 8-13).
The next things to look at is to whom we should apply the love to. Before anything else, we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. “This is the great and first commandment,” says Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:28).
Indeed the God of Creation wants us to give Him undivided attention and worship. “I am the Lord your God, there shall be no other Gods besides me,” He commanded foremost (Exodus 20:2-3).
Jesus Christ uses his love for mankind and the love from his Father as the example for the chain of love that should extend to the love for others.
In the book of John 15:9-14, he spoke: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, ‘that you love one another as I have loved you’. Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
God the Father loves us, just as His Son loves us to such an extent that he was nailed to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We should keep that love in motion by extending our own love to others. The parable of the Good Samaritan gives us a clue on good
A lawyer asked Jesus Christ, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed on by the other side.
But a Samaritan as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him then he sat him on his beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying ‘take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these, do you think, proved neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one who showed mercy on him.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
While it is the preached norm that the love of your neighbours or those around you comes second from the love of God, I would want to put in between the important, but often neglected love for yourself. The love for oneself is used as the measure for the love for others, hence I reckon that should be ahead. In order to love others, it is crucial that you should love yourself as God’s creation.
Love who you are and who He make you to be, whether black, brown, coloured or white. Being rich or poor, famous or a nobody is how the Lord assigned you to be. He loves you just for being who you are, like everyone else without distinction. We can’t all be the same.
Each of us is an intended specimen of the Creator, with a distinct purpose. If you are unhappy with who God created you to be, then you fall short of loving yourself. Should you want more from the Lord, first thank Him for who He made you to be, then you can give prayers to Him for whatever shortfalls you think you want improved, and He may answer, if asked for in earnest. The important thing is that, at every juncture be happy with who you are — love yourself. You can’t go on to love others while you are not at peace with yourself. That is the logical sequence that should lead to the love for others. Be thankful to God for creating you as a distinct person.
The law to love yourself as your neighbour was not crafted by Jesus Christ, as regards the two most important commandments. It was God the Father who pronounced it first, and then the Son adopted it. In Leviticus 19:17-18, as a general statute, He proclaimed via Moses, to say to the people: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin
because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour
as yourself: I am the Lord.”
In Leviticus 19:34, He reiterated on the same love for neighbours: “The stranger who lives among you shall be to you as a native among
you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were also strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Prosper Tingini is the President of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org