As I reflected on last week’s lesson, a verse came to mind that truly encapsulates the essence of all the one-another verses. It is found in 1st Peter 1:22 where we are exhorted to “love one another fervently with a pure heart.” God yearns for us to have a fervent (earnest) love for one another. It was then that I made the connection, not for the first time I’m sure, that love is at the core of “one another.”
I realized that I left out something from last week’s lesson that is fundamentally important to the whole idea of “bearing with one another.” We are called to do so “in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Jimmy Jividen once wrote, “Fellowship in Christ is far more than what is involved in the social meaning of the term.” How true that statement is!
Love’s role in “bearing with one another” is found in some ways beautifully penned in 1st Corinthians 13, which for many is considered the LOVE chapter. In the chapter, love is said to do many things, but the one we look towards today is this, love “thinks no evil” (1st Corinthians 13:5c). The NIV says, “Love keeps no records of wrong,” while the ETRV says, “Love does not remember wrongs done against it.” These words must have penetrated their hearts when read, for there was much strife at Corinth. Whether it be the cliquish attitude revealed in 1st Corinthians 1:12-13 or the fact they were taking one another to a worldly court as seen in 1st Corinthians 6:6, the reality was that they were more “carnal” than “spiritual” (1st Corinthians 3:1-3).
The solution, at least in part, was simple in words and challenging in application. If they were to “love one another fervently” that love must be willing to “think no evil.” This word think means to make an account or to take an inventory, i.e., estimate. The word evil carries with it the idea of what is contrary to law; either divine or human; injurious; harm or ill. Love fights against the tendency to retaliate in kind. Matthew Henry writes, “Love will not make the worse construction of things, but put the best face that it can on circumstances that have no good appearance.” Albert Barnes brings further insight saying, “It means that love, or that a person under the influence of love, is not malicious, disposed to find fault, or to impute improper motives to others.” Appropriately said, “Love never fails” (1st Corinthians 13:8).
May the God of all creation, the One who has showered us with His immeasurable love, help us to understand that love more and more so we can love one another fervently. Amen.