As Christians, we need to love more and Judge less, allow the Holy Spirit to change a person. As this scripture shows us Peter expects our love to be a certain kind of love – an earnest love. The fact that Peter has to use an adverb after his command to love shows us there are different intensities of love. If we have to be told to love earnestly, it must be possible to love non-earnestly. Earnest means serious, sincere or deep. So Peter wants us to take our responsibility to love seriously, not flippantly and not judgmentally. He wants us to be sincere, not manipulative. And he wants our love to be deep and intense, not shallow and hollow.
How important is earnest love? So important that Peter says we should be loving one another earnestly – above all. More important than anything else in this world is our love for one another. Naturally we think of our obligation to love God as more important than our love for one another, and that’s understandable. However, if we love God, we will love one another. They go hand in hand, because the Spirit that puts the love for God in our hearts also puts a love for one another in our hearts.
As Christians, sometimes I feel we are alienating people, people need truth and love. One without the other leads to a warped Gospel. The truth spoken without love is harsh, hurtful and causes people to raise their walls, close their ears, and walk away. Love spoken without truth easily turns into a prosperity gospel, or an “all roads lead to heaven” approach. Our default is to lead with truth, but too often we forget to follow up with love. Jesus gave us many great examples of how he lead with love and followed up with truth – the adulteress woman, the Samaritan woman, consorting with tax collectors, etc. Mark 2 tells us that Jesus dined with thieves and other disreputable sinners. He knew these people needed the Truth, and he knew that what they were doing was wrong. But he also knew that they were looked down upon and scorned by the world already. They heard every single day how they were not good enough. Jesus knew that if he was going to make a difference, he should show them how much he cared and gain their trust and respect. Then the truth he followed up with would hold weight in their lives…We need to offer people hope. Love first allow Jesus to do the rest.