In the 13th chapter of Romans, verse 8; the apostle Paul said,
'Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.'
Later on, in his first letter to the Corinthians, in the 13th chapter, verses 1-3; he said,
'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.'
Our Lord Himself said, in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, verse 34,
'A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.'
Several chapters over, in John 15:12, He repeats this command, thus showing the importance that He placed upon it.
'This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.'
This reminds me of Peter's discourse with our Lord, after His resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. Peter replied thrice that he did indeed love the Lord; but rather than using agapaō, as Jesus did, at least, the first two times, he used phileō. agapaō means simply 'to love', and has more a connotation of an active love while phileō means 'to be a friend to ( be fond of ), have affection for', and has more a connotation of a passive love, merely a feeling. Jesus simply wanted to know if Peter loved Him, but Peter wanted Jesus to know that he would be His friend, that he was fond of Jesus, that he had affection for Him! Jesus doesn't want just our friendship, or for us to like Him; He simply wants our love, and ffor us to share the love that He has given us with others! ( This is found in John 21:15-17 )
How do we do this?
Back to I Corinthians 13 now, in verses 7-13, Paul tells us that,
'Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'
Paull uses much the same word here to describe how we must treat each other, in the Body of Christ. agapē means pretty much the same as agapaō, but has more a connotation of, rather than just a love for God, a love for your fellow man. You've all probably heard someone use the phrase, 'I still love you!': that's what Paul's talking about here; if a brother or sister cause hurt ( real or imagined ) to us, our response to that hurt should be, 'I still love you!' We should not selfishly try to exalt ourselves, particularly at the expense of others: if our brother or sister truly transgresses, we should correct them by reminding them, or telling them the truth, in love. As God, in Christ, bore our sins upon the cruel cross of Calvary, enduring the shame of crucifixion, believing that His heavenly Father would raise Him from the dead as He promised; so we, as the image of Christ, little Christs, if you will, should bear each others burdens ( Galatians 6:2 ), un-selfishly suffering whatever pain or shame they might purposely or unwittingly cause us. We should believe them when they tell us that they love us; placing our hope in Christ that they are being truthful, and showing them an enduring love: 'I still love you!'