Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
My sisters and I got along pretty well growing up. But there was the occasional argument between us when inevitably my mom would have to step in. I remember one time when she made my sisters sit facing each other during an argument – knee to knee – and take turns telling each other, “I love you.” Their responses started out a little sarcastic, but after a few minutes my sisters were giggling and laughing with each other.
My mom’s strategy was to get my sisters to look past their disagreement and really see each other; to remind them of the things they have in common and to remind them that they are actually capable of loving each other – even if they disagree.
I think that is the way God wants us to see each other too. To look past the things that all too easily become an excuse to keep us apart and recognize that we have a reason to serve and love each other despite our differences. The simple reason is that God made and loves each of us more than we can even imagine. It is His desire that we would see each other as brothers and sisters and really love each other, seeking out ways to serve and encourage each other because of His love for us.