“Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. Conduct yourselves honorably. … For it is God’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people. …Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” 1 Peter 2:11, 15, 17 HCS
Love the brotherhood. That phrase leaped out of this verse. I am a temporary resident on Earth, and God expects me to act like a citizen of heaven. That means loving the other citizens.
But what happens when the citizens disagree? We are bound to, after all, with all our diverse personalities and gifts and perspectives. Even in our disagreement, we are still to honor each other. Love each other. For my own sake, I’d like to chew on this a while.
Love the brotherhood. According to I Corinthians 13 …
Love is patient. We should be patient with each other. We should listen before we speak, patiently waiting to understand the other’s point of view before we try to express our own. That’s hard for me to do when the person speaking to me is angry, harder still when I am angry myself. But it’s love.
Love is kind. We should make sure all our words are spoken with kindness, with the intent of restoring and edifying our listeners, not tearing them down.
Love does not envy. We should make sure that – even in the deepest parts of our hearts where we don’t even like to look ourselves – we are not coveting anything that belongs to someone else.
Love is not boastful. We should never, ever gloat that we get our way, or that things go well for us and not for those who disagree with us. Ever.
Does not act improperly. This one is harder to define, easier to feel. When my kids try to squirm out of their wrongdoing with plausible excuses, my husband often says, “You should do what you know is right.” Really, deep down, we know. We should do it.
Is not selfish. Put the other person first. Even if the other person has a vastly different opinion than our own.
Is not provoked. Yeah, this is a hard one. What if the other person is letting me have it? Or saying unkind things about someone I admire? If I am going to truly love, I can’t allow that to get under my skin. I have to put the other person first, muster the fruit of self-control, and choose not to be provoked.
Does not keep a record of wrongs. I think this is my favorite quality of love. If anyone kept a record of my wrongs, wow, that would be a mighty long piece of paper. Jesus doesn’t. He tore up that record when he died on the cross for my sins. And so, I must not even start the list for one of my brothers or sisters. This means never, ever holding a grudge.
Finds no joy in unrighteousness. That means if someone suffers for their poor choices, we should mourn with them, not secretly think “Well, you deserved it.” Because what do I deserve? Death in hell. Only by God’s grace am I not getting it.
But rejoices in the truth. The truth, not rumors. When we hear something disparaging about another person, we should assume it is erroneous until we’ve spoken directly with the person involved. And we shouldn’t accuse when we ask. We should just listen. Listen to both sides in a conflict. Rejoice when we find the truth, even when the truth hurts.
Bears all things. Love takes the punches, even the underserved punches, and keeps on loving.
Believes all things. Love believes in the possibility of a fresh start.
Hopes all things. Love daydreams about better days.
Endures all things. Rumors. Slander. Misunderstandings. Love endures it all.
Love never fails.
“I urge you as aliens and temporary residents to …. love the brotherhood.”