Says Charlie Brown – ‘Of course I love humanity, it’s people I can’t stand.’
Here is one of the great dilemmas of Church life; we may find that the better we know people, and the closer we get to them, the harder it might become to love them. Differences are magnified, silly little quirks become major irritations, and we might struggle with a diversity of attitudes. It is all too easy to keep your distance from people, smile at them benignly when your paths cross, and then claim to love them. I suspect Paul has something like this in mind when he writes Love each other with genuine affection. That is why he adds and take delight in honouring each other.
Honouring people implies an attitude towards them that shows:
We value them: we look for the good things they do, the spiritual qualities they exhibit, and the contribution they make to the lives of others.
We respect them: each one is a child of God, made in the image of God, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. A life with God must never be belittled.
We always speak well of them: we keep their secrets, we never tell tales or spread rumours about them, and we value their good reputation.
This genuine love is so much more than just having a nice feeling about somebody, it is immensely practical and it grows with practice. It involves definite efforts if we are to maintain it when people make mistakes and their lives fail to match up to the standards we expect.
Love like this is hugely attractive, and honours God – because it reflects the quality of His love for us, His people. After all- we are far from perfect ourselves and yet He goes on loving us in spite of everything!