1 Peter 4:8, Above all, keep loving one another earnestly.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love is the longest entry in Webster's Dictionary of Quotable Definitions. For ten columns of small print, authors, poets, scholars, and preachers struggle and sputter to put a box around love.

The New Testament frames the concept of love by what it can do in relationships:

Romans 13:8 says, love is the only debt worth having. "Owe no one anything, except to love each other."

Colossians 2:2 describes love as the tie that binds relationships together. "...Their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love."

1 Peter 4:8 says that love keeps you fervent in your love and moves your focus off how we fail one another. "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."

Romans 8:37 says God's love allows us to conquer every obstacle and in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

OK, so I can hear you asking, Sounds great, James, but how does this translate into "real" life? One of our small group leaders recently told me about a love experiment they had going in their group.

"Our small group realized that we weren't making progress in "doing life together." We met each week, hardly thought of each other till the next week. That changed when we determined we were going to work at really loving each other. We vowed to learn to:

1. Lose ourselves in others. It's about you, not me.
2. Listen deeply and hear what someone is saying/not saying.
3. Love the unlovely — in our group and in our community.
4. Leave our mistakes at the Cross. Love fuels forgiveness.
5. Discover God's plan for our lives. We pray and seek the Lord for each other.
6. Lean on the Holy Spirit when we don't know how to help or pray.
7. Lead others to Christ. Our family is not complete yet.
'Loving one another earnestly' (1 Peter 4:8) is not a slogan in this small group, it has become an astonishing reality."

—James MacDonald