I’ve always thought of it as a list.
A kind of ‘to do’ list.
The ultimate ‘to do’ list.
A variation, if you like, on ‘the ten commandments’ – another ‘to do’ list.
Let love be genuine
Hate what is evil
Hold fast to what is good
Love one another with mutual affection
Outdo one another in showing honour.
I don’t know about you, but I find ‘to do’ lists so helpful. There are so many things to get your mind round, write them down, make a list and start ticking off each thing that needs to be done.
These are the things to work at.
When I came to this passage again this week, I saw it in a different light.
Not so much the ultimate ‘to do’ list, as the answer to the ultimate question.
Let me explain.
Jesus takes the ten commandments down to two:
Love your neighbour.
Those two commandments have one word in common.
That’s the word Jesus comes back to in his parting words to the disciples.
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.
Be it in pastoral care, be it in care of others in need, what counts is love.
So let’s go back to this passage and see it in a new light.
That’s exactly what Paul is getting at. Love is what it is all about.
Let love be genuine.
But that gives rise to a question. And that’s the ultimate question Paul sets out to respond to in this passage.
What is genuine love? How can we make sure love is genuine?
Maybe, that’s what Paul is getting at. This is what it takes for love to be really love, the kind of love that really is genuine …
There’s a love that pretends
And a love that’s true.
Help us to see the difference
And know that true love
Seeks the good
Honours the other
Serves the Lord
Rejoices in hope
Waits in patience
Keeps at prayer
Gives in need
Welcomes the stranger
Rejoices with those who rejoice
Weeps with those who weep
And seeks to be at peace