There are times when one is impelled to write with directness and great urgency. This is such a time, for there has been borne in on my soul the tragic need for more love between Christians.

On every hand one comes in contact with frictions, jealousies, back-biting, gossip, and just plain bad manners, on the part of some Christians in their attitudes and dealings with other Christians.

There is not one of us who has not been guilty of this in some measure, so there is no need to point the finger of accusation at others unless we search our own hearts and recognize and confess this great sin ourselves.

An unloving and critical spirit is clear evidence that there is something wrong inside. We see things in others which we do not like. We forget that we are all responsible to the same God and that God is looking into our hearts and seeing there many things grievous in his sight. Lovelessness eats as a canker in our souls, taking away joy, power in witnessing and a sense of the presence of Christ. It grieves his heart and tarnishes our spirits.

Only a few days ago two Christians came to us separately. They live in different cities but have occasion for repeated contacts with each other. From each there came a tale of criticism. They were utterly miserable and did not know why. Each was cherishing a grudge against the other. Each thought he had been wronged. Each was bitter in his criticism of the other.

As we listened we were sick at heart. We know both of these individuals well. They are unquestionably Christians and God has used them, each in his own sphere. But here one sensed a spirit which dishonors the Lord and greatly lessens their influence as Christians. This situation can be duplicated so frequently that it may be considered commonplace within the Christian community. Brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Often there is the clash of personalities. One considers himself better than the other, or, the peculiarities of one individual “get on the nerves” of another and he breaks forth in words of resentment and criticism. How easy it is to magnify the peculiarities of others while at the same time we forget that our own idiosyncracies are often even more offensive!

Again our anger smoulders as we imagine the wrongs someone has done to us! Many times these wrongs are the fruits of our own imagination. Again they may be real and we proceed to forget that forgiveness is a Christian virtue, based on God’s forgiveness to us. Who are we to cherish resentments when God has forgiven us for so much?

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Only too often we clash with others because we are determined to have our own way. Willfulness and self-assertiveness are often signs of our own immaturity or of our own ignorance. Many times the writer has been sure of his own judgment and sought to carry it out only to find that some one else had a much wiser solution.

Many times the failure to exhibit Christian love is a case of just plain bad manners. Christians should, of all people, exhibit love and consideration of others but they often fail miserably. A little girl is reported to have prayed: “Oh Lord, make more people Christians, and then make more Christians nice.” There is more than an implied joke in this prayer, for there is great need that more of us Christians shall be “nice.”

That there should be secret scheming by Christians against other Christians seems unthinkable, but if we search our own hearts we know that many of us have been guilty of this sin.

Again, petty revenge ever lurks in the wings, anxious to assert itself in the guise of righteous indignation, or contending for the faith, or any one of a number of pious-sounding but nonetheless hypocritical attitudes.

How many of us love to gossip! We hear a tidbit of scandal, or supposed scandal, or backsliding by a fellow Christian and we can hardly wait to tell someone else. And in the telling the story grows and becomes distorted to the injury of our brother and the scarring of our own souls. Somewhere along the way Satan attached the word “harmless” to gossip. What a trap!

In all of this harshness and lack of Christian love the solution rests with the individual Christian and his Lord. God will give the grace to overcome this sin and he will give us Christian love through his Spirit. But we must practice this grace, and with it comes a wonderful change in attitude to others and peace in one’s heart.

Our Lord spoke of the priority of reconciliation over acts of worship. He tells us to first be reconciled to our brother, then come to him in worship. This is not easy, for it requires the grace of humility, but what peace and joy it brings to the one who is so reconciled!

Basic to such love is a realization of God’s love for us in Christ. He did not come to die for saints, but for sinners such as we are. This love of both the Father and the Son is reflected in our hearts by the indwelling Spirit.

Paul tells us that God will teach us to love others, even the most unlovely (1 Thess. 4:9). In Galatians 5:13, 14 he says: “… but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (RSV).

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The definition of Christian love is one we should study repeatedly. It involves patience, kindness without either jealousy or boastfulness. It does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

How impossible to live in that relationship with others without the presence and power of the indwelling Spirit!

If one will study the realm of Christian relations one will find how far most of us come short of God’s standard in this matter. Unbelievers look at us and scoff. Believers consider and mourn.

Paul, speaking of the works of the flesh numbers far more sins of the spirit than of the body—“enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissention, party spirit, envy,” 8 of the 15 specific sins mentioned in Galatians 5:20 (RSV) have to do with our personal relationships with others.

The Kingdom of God is being retarded because so many of us who name the name of Christ exhibit so little evidence of Christian love in our hearts.

But where such love is found, how winsome and refreshing! The healing balm of love is desperately needed in a world where Satan tempts us to the very opposite. Faith abides because it is a reaction of man to God’s offer of salvation. Hope is a result of our faith in the saving and keeping power of Christ. But it is love which demonstrates to others that our faith and hope are genuine.

God, enable us to love our brothers for Thy glory!

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