VII. LOVE BEING THE GREATEST
Love is not jealous, is not provoked, does not take account of evil, covers all things, endures all things, never falls away, and is the greatest (1 Cor. 13:4-8, 13). Jealousy is in our nature. When a new child is born in a family, the other child may become jealous. Jealousy is also present in the church life. One sister may be jealous of another sister because she receives many "amens" from the saints when she prays or prophesies. Some brothers may be jealous when they see that another brother has been appointed into the eldership. After being in the church life for over sixty years, I can testify that one of the hardest things is to appoint the elders. We realize that if we appoint a certain brother, another brother whom we do not feel to appoint may be stumbled because of jealousy. If a certain sister is asked to take the lead in a sisters’ house, the others may become jealous, but love is not jealous.
Also, love is not provoked. People are easily provoked because of the shortage of love. Regardless of how much we are rebuked, we will not be provoked if we are filled with the divine love. Love does not take account of evil. We have to confess that we have taken account of other people’s evil. Some wives have a record, an account, of their husband’s failures and defects. This record may not be written but it is in their mind. They are taking account of their husband’s evil.
The elders need to realize that in their shepherding, they have to cover others’ sins, not to take account of others’ evils. Love covers all things, not only the good things but also the bad things. Whoever uncovers the defects, shortcomings, and sins of the members of the church is disqualified from the eldership. Our uncovering of the members under our eldership, our shepherding, annuls our qualification. Love also endures all things and never falls away. First Corinthians13 concludes by saying, "Now there abide faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
VIII. LOVE BEING THE CONCLUSION OF ALL SPIRITUAL VIRTUES AND THE FACTOR OF FRUIT-BEARING
Love is the conclusion of all spiritual virtues and the factor of fruit-bearing that supplies us bountifully with the rich entrance into the kingdom of Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
IX. THE BODY BUILDING ITSELF UP IN LOVE
The Body of Christ builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:16). The phrase in love is used repeatedly in the book of Ephesians (1:4; 3:17; 4:2, 15-16; 5:2). God predestinated us unto sonship before the foundation of the world in love, and the Body of Christ builds itself up in love. The growth in life is in love. In the last few years we have appreciated the Lord’s showing us the high peak of the divine revelation. My concern is that although we may talk about the truths of the high peak, love is absent among us. If this is the case, we are puffed up, not built up. The Body of Christ builds itself up in love.
X. THE SPIRIT THAT GOD GIVES US BEING OF LOVE
The spirit that God has given us is our human spirit regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This spirit is a spirit of love; hence, it is of power and of sobermindedness (2 Tim. 1:7). We may think that we are very powerful and sober, but our spirit is not of love. We talk to people in a way that is full of power and sobermindedness, but our talk threatens them.
Paul said that we need to fan our gift into flame (v. 6). The main gift which God has given us is our regenerated human spirit with His Spirit, His life, and His nature. We must fan this gift into flame. This means that we have to stir up our spirit so that our spirit will be burning. Romans 12:11 says that we should be burning in spirit. If our spirit is not a spirit of love, our fanning it into flame will burn the whole recovery in a negative way. We must have a burning spirit of love, not a burning spirit of authority which damages. Whatever is mentioned in 2 Timothy is a requirement for us to face the degradation of the church. How can we overcome the degradation of the church? We must have a burning human spirit of love. Under today’s degradation of the church, we all need a spirit of love fanned into flame to be burning in spirit. Love prevails in this way.
According to my observation throughout the years, most of the co-workers have a human spirit of "power" but not of love. We need a spirit of love to conquer the degradation of today’s church. We should not say or do anything to threaten people. Instead we should always say and do things with a spirit of love, which has been fanned into flame. This is what the recovery needs.
(The Vital Groups, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)