1 Corinthians 13:13
I think this verse is frequently misinterpreted. I saw it used in a church bulletin this week as a scriptural justification for loving a certain group of new members (with a highly questionable lifestyle) in a congregation. It heavily implied that we should allow our faith in the Lord and our hope that He can bring them away from their sin come distant cousins to our simply loving them. Love every part of them, the bulletin said, even their sin.
But God does not love sin. In fact, He hates it. This is the old question: how do we love people without also allowing their sin to be loved?
Of course we should love other people. Jesus calls us to do this. But should our love for other s ever be greater than the love for our Lord? Never. So, when it comes time to love others, let me always remember Christ first. His desire for me to follow Him is key; my obedience (or lack of) to Christ is a guide for how I should - and do- treat others. It does not mean love others less, but love Jesus first. This is how we align with the Lord against sin, but continue to love our neighbors as ourselves. We, too, have sin in our hearts.
If my aim is to show Jesus my love for Him by serving other people, I have it backwards. I must love Him first, and use His love as my example of how to love others. Jesus loved everyone- even the Pharisees- but He did not condone all they did. Neither did He judge them. Rather, He told them who He was (He is our Savior).
The answer to, "Who is Jesus?" will be our answer to, "How should I love others?"