We can point our fingers and cross reference our doctrinal “proof texts” until we are blue in the face, but if there is no real love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, according to John, our alleged conversion is a farce (1 John 3:14,15).

Make no mistake about it, beloved, sound doctrine is critical to the spiritual health of the church (2 Timothy 1:13, 4:2-4), but the faith that is born from above (John 3:3-8) will manifest itself in the love of God and of one another (1 John 4:20,21). It is this degree of love that proves to the world that we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:34,35).

Peter tells us that the fervent love that we have for one another as Christians is due to the supernatural work of the new birth planted within our hearts at the moment of our conversion (1 Peter 1:22,23). It is this love that compelled Paul to share the glorious gospel to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). It is this love that motivates us to minister to those in need (1 John 3:16,17).

As wonderful and important as the gifts of the Spirit are for the church, there is something that is by far greater than the gifts, and that is the love of God (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3), without which any spiritual experience or theological understanding of mysteries makes me a useless nobody.

What is at the top of the list of the fruit of the Spirit? Love (Galatians 5:22). What is the fulfilling of the law of God? Love (Romans 13:10; James 2:8). This love is far from lenient on sin (1 Corinthians 5), but neither is it legalistic on non-sin issues (Romans 14:5,6), and it most certainly is never mean-spirited (Ephesians 4:32).

May this supernatural love be ever more evident in our lives, both as individuals and as a church family.