The Greatest is Love
Jesus demonstrated unconditional love for all people. His life and teachings encouraged His followers to do the same. He often instructed us to love others. Here are only three Bible verses that reflect that teaching that is throughout the New Testament: Matt. 22:39 –‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Romans 12:10 – “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
We know the commandment of Jesus to love our neighbor and “do unto others…”, but it is not always so easy. In church, it seems to be much easier to hear that teaching than it does to remember it when we are “outside” the safety of the church. It is hard to truly love hostile people that spew their hatred in acts of violent behavior. How hard it is to love the proud “pagan” at work that makes life miserable for a believer! What a challenge to consistently feel love for all of the panhandlers, street people, and indigent! And, I have not mentioned the challenge of loving a Muslim immigrant, a liberal politician that stands against all we hold to be sacred, a Godless teacher that delights in making life miserable for Christian students, a husband that is abusive, a wife that is an unbeliever, a child that is determined to be wayward….how are you doing with these and a 1000 more? As for me, I cry “ugh”….I need a lot more power of the Holy Spirit to claim success in loving “others”.
It was Christmas Eve, 1911. General William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army in London, England was near the end of his life. His health was poor, and he was going to be unable to attend the Army’s annual convention. Booth had become an invalid, and his eyesight was failing him. No one knew that he would not live to see another Christmas. He died in August, 1912, at the age of 83.
Somebody suggested that General Booth send a telegram or a message to be read at the opening of the convention as an encouragement to the many soldiers of the Salvation Army that would be in attendance following Christmas and their many hours of labor ministering to so many others through the holidays and the cold winter months. Booth agreed to do so.
Knowing that funds were limited and desiring not to use any more money than necessary so that as much money as possible could be used to help the many people in need, General Booth decided to send a one word message. He searched his mind and reviewed his years of ministry, looking for the one word that would summarize his life, the mission of the Army and encourage the others to continue on.
When the thousands of delegates met, the moderator announced that Booth would not be able to be present because of failing health and eyesight. Gloom and pessimism swept across the floor of the convention. Then, the moderator announced that Booth had sent a message to be read with the opening of the first session. He opened the telegram and read the one word message:
“Others!” Signed, General Booth (Copied).