According to Jesus, love of God and neighbor are the greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-39). Indeed, He said that “‘All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:40). In other words, every other commandment is in some way a commandment to love. One should not covet, for example, because that would not be an act of love toward one’s neighbor.
Our verse for today lists four characteristics of Godly love.
First, love bears all things. The person who truly loves God and neighbor should not be easily offended or hurt. Love puts up with things. It does not allow perceived slights and offenses, from God or people, to easily get to us and undermine our love.
Second, love believes all things. That is, the person of love always thinks the best of God and neighbor. With respect to God, love does not attribute wrong motives and intentions to what God says. With respect to neighbors, love is not overly suspicious of what people say. This does not mean that love is naïve. After all, the Bible also says that we should “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (I John 4:1). But it does mean that we should not be quick to suspect the worst of our neighbors.
Third, love hopes all things. With respect to God, this means that love trusts that God will fulfill His promises and that He will bring His glorious plan of redemption to complete fulfillment. With respect to neighbors, this means that love expects the best of people and believes that they can change for the better with the help of the Lord.
Finally, love endures all things. If we are to truly love God and neighbor, then we should not easily give up on love. No matter what happens to us – trials, troubles, tribulations, offenses, hurts, wounds – we should not cease to love. Sometimes God allows things to happen that we may not like or understand and sometimes people do things that wound us or hurt us in some way. The person of love continues to love and endures these things.
The two greatest commandments are great because they are central to what human existence is all about. Everything we say and do is governed by them. Today, and every day, therefore, let love reign.