Above All, Love Each Other Deeply
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
In my mid-teenage years a friend of mine got ahold of a bottle of Jack Daniels. He downed the entire fifth–all of it. I had come home through the back door that evening and turned to my right, through a bedroom, because I heard his voice.
“Maaaaaaaaat. Matt. Matt…Matt…Matty Matt!”
Through this bedroom was a bathroom. In that bathroom was my friend in the bathtub, naked in the water.
“Oh gosh!” I exclaimed as I flinched and turned my head after seeing what I could never unsee.
“What are you doing?!” I barked, confused.
“Oh, I’m drunk as crap. HA! I just smashed a whole bottle of Jack…huh…”
I winced and looked back at him, covering up his lower half from my view with my left hand. He was obliterated and could hardly keep his eyes open.
“Geez. Okay. You’re gonna be in some pain tomorrow when that wears off,” I said not fully knowing that I, myself, would begin to deal with alcoholism shortly after this, not getting sober until I was 32.
I turned and walked out, then into the kitchen. Grandma was sitting at the table by the window. The look she gave me was one of concern and sadness. Grandpa had struggled greatly with the same addiction, so this wasn’t the first time she’d dealt with such a situation, by far.
“I couldn’t send him home like that.”
“Yeah, I know.”
My friend’s dad was not very kind to him. He was always respectful and friendly to me, but not to his own son. He knocked him around like a grown man in a bar fight. Now, just so you know, this friend was my best friend. He always stuck by my side. Even as the new kid in the neighborhood he showed me kindness and companionship when no one else would. He meant a lot to me and still does to this day.
His dad, however, was…what’s the word I’m looking for?…Macho? He always wanted to come across as ultra-masculine, tough, and a “man’s man.” He took out his chauvinism quite often on my buddy, sometimes knocking him across the room or across the head when I spent the night–which was always awkward.
My friend lived on the other side of the alley so he was always at our house. Even when I wasn’t there he’d come hang out with my brothers, sister, or even Grandma and Dad. He was basically family. We all knew how his dad was, including Grandma, so when he got super-drunk that day she took care of him and didn’t send him home. He would’ve gotten punched around so she tried to sober him up by putting him in the tub.
But even if my friend’s dad wasn’t overbearing, Grandma would’ve still taken care of him just the same. The love of Jesus–which is protecting others and covering for their mistakes–would’ve still been expressed through her because she knew who she was.
The words love one another are mentioned in the same sentence in the New Testament approximately 20 times, depending on the translation. Loving one another is the foundational fabric of the one true God. In fact, for believers, loving others is a part of who we are in our supernatural genetic makeup. We cannot get away from loving others, it’s impossible. Even when people infuriate or annoy us, such attempts to shield them off by non-loving actions and attitudes could be compared to corking Old Faithful at Yellowstone.
We are loving, by nature. Old Faithful does explode, by nature. You can’t stop either so don’t even attempt to.
Try denying our loving nature as we might–because we’re hurt or mad–we never feel more like ourselves than when we express love. Paul calls this built-in love incorruptible (see Ephesians 6:24). Incorruptible means unable to die or decay, everlasting.
This love which has been poured into the heart of every single Christian, evenly, is the love of God Almighty. Truthfully, it is God Almighty, Himself. Paul informs the Romans:
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
Do you see that, friend? You, dear believer, have God’s Spirit in you, in full, right now, this moment. You lack nothing because you have Him. You house His incorruptible love.
Let me back up just in case you feel left out. If you’ve not yet believed Jesus, believe. Today is your day of salvation. Believe Jesus has forgiven you this moment and be saved for eternity. When you do this you’ll receive the same Spirit of incorruptible love into your spirit. This is not a feeling but a fact of faith. The Bible never says to “feel” anything–although, sure, you could. God is not against feelings. But salvation isn’t based on feelings. It’s based on believing and knowing that Jesus has forgiven you.
Feelings come and go based on what’s happening around us and in our mind at any given moment. Jesus never comes and goes. He stays.
When you believe this, at that exact millisecond your old spirit dies, you get a new spirit, and the Holy Spirit of Jesus infuses Himself with you permanently (see Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6-10, 8:9, Colossians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 6:17). No special event needs to happen–but again, if a special event did happen that’s okay too. Just know that event didn’t save you. Jesus did.
So if you’ve not yet believed, believe right now. Repent of unbelief, once, and you’ll become a child of God forever (see John 1:12, 3:16-18, Acts 3:19, Hebrews 10:10,14).
As for the situation with my friend and Grandma, that moment in the late 1990’s will forever be seared into my subconscious. I got to see parts of my friend I wish I never did, literally, but I also got to see my grandma loving him as Christ loves us all. No shame, no condemnation, just covering a multitude of mistakes in order to protect him from being harmed even worse. That’s mercy. That’s grace. That’s love.
So today, my friends, know this: You have this same incorruptible love in you if you’ve ever trusted in Jesus. In your core, you want exactly what He wants. You can’t deny this love because love is your nature. Just try withholding it and you’ll see such never fits. Jesus wants you to love others and you want you to love others. The pain certain people have caused you might muffle this truth–and God shows you grace, especially during those frustrating times–but you love like a fish swims, Christian. Your mind will catch up to this truth over the course of your short life on this planet, even if you live an entire century. The older I get the more I realize Grandma knew this truth about who she was. She did what she did for so many people during her 89 years because she understood it was a natural thing to love others, deeply.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, today I want to express my appreciation to you. I want to thank you for giving me yourself, and your love. This union we have is indescribable. On the days I start to lose patience with myself, you remind me how to love myself, because you are in me. This organic love cannot be explained in human languages, but you know, and I know. Thank you for this love. Thank you. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For the Christians, what they’ve just read makes perfect sense. It clicked, and now they feel relief. Many of them were taught they have to prove their love to you and others, but Jesus did that for us and we are thankful. Now that same love is in us permanently. Keep taking them deeper into the knowledge of who you’ve remade them to be as your loving children. For the unbeliever, in regard to this love, maybe they’re intrigued but can’t wrap their minds around it. Let them know that’s exactly where they need to be. Like a child, they simply need to trust you and believe in your Son. Thank you so much for Him, for your love, and for giving us all the opportunity to be one with you forever. Amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 2. Get your copy here!