We could all stand to improve in our relations with others,and the Bible has lots of helpful counsel for us on that subject—how to work with others, how to treat them, and so on. It talks about patience, longsuffering, unselfishness, and giving. But it goes on to say that love is the most important thing. “The greatest of these is love.”1 Love is the most important ingredient in our relations with others.
The hallmark of Jesus’ ministry was love, and He tells us to love likewise. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”2 How can we say we love God whom we can’t see, if we can’t love the people we live and work with all the time? How can we say we love people whom we haven’t seen, if we don’t love those we see every day?3
God puts certain people in our lives—relatives, coworkers, overseers, clients, or neighbors—whether we like it or not. Whether we like to be with these people or not, He has put us with them and it’s our responsibility to love them. If we have a hard time getting along with them, He evidently knows we need to learn to, or He wouldn’t have put us together. And it must be possible, or He wouldn’t have put us in that situation.
We only grow and learn when we have a challenge, so look at this as a new challenge. “What can I do to grow in my relationships with other people?” Part of the answer to that is growing in our relationship with Jesus, because when we do, we’re more loving toward other people. If we love God, we’ll love others, too, because loving others is one way we show Him love. And that’s what it’s all about. That’s the main purpose for living—to love God and others. Love is the most important thing!
Paul mentions three Christian virtues—faith, hope, love—at the end of 1 Corinthians 13, his great chapter on love, and each one enfolds a paradox.
Love involves caring about people most of us would prefer not to care about.
Hope gives us the power to look beyond circumstances that otherwise appear hopeless.
As for faith, it will always mean believing in what cannot be proven, committing to that of which we can never be sure.—Philip Yancey