"...love one another deeply, from the heart."
1 Peter 1: 22 b (NIV)
In my Scripture memory, I'm working on 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, the "Love is..." passage. First, I read it over and over. Next, I say it aloud without looking at the text. When I finally have it down, I incorporate into my prayer time..."Lord, help me to be patient and kind to others. Help me not to be easily angered..."
At Bible study, our group was reading 1 Peter. A phrase in verse 22 jumped off the page and landed on my note pad: "...love one another deeply, from the heart." In place of "deeply" some translations use the word "fervently". The word means intensely, earnestly, fervently. It comes from a verb meaning "stretch out the hand".
When I think of "stretching out", I think of exercising. And exercising can be painful. It's tough, and it takes discipline. Like exercise, loving others can be a challenge.
Shirley, our Bible study teacher, said, "God will give us the opportunity to do the loving thing." Oh, yes, He will. Especially if you're asking for it.
Have you ever been snubbed? Mistreated? Offended by rudeness? I have. Inwardly, my anger flares, and I want to say or do something to hurt my offender.
But, that's not love. Love is patient, kind, not envious, doesn't boast, and it's not proud. Love's not rude or self-seeking. Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil. Love rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails.
Because of God's great love, Jesus stretched out his hands for us on a cross. He took our sins, and died for us. And because He lives, His Spirit is available to live in us, giving us the strength to love others deeply.
Father God, thank you for your great love. When you give us the opportunity to do the loving thing, help us to love others as you have loved us. In the name of our Saviour, Jesus...amen.