In 1969, Paul Newman and Robert Redford starred in the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The film is based on a band of train robbers led by Butch and Sundance. The Union Pacific hired a renowned group, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, to hunt these robbers down. In the film, this posse was skillful and relentless in their pursuit. Butch and Sundance tried everything they knew to elude them, but they just kept coming, undeterred. Butch turned to Sundance and said, “Who are these guys?”
Having just spent the entire previous chapter extolling the necessity and importance of genuine love in the lives Christians, Paul continued in the next chapter with, “Follow after charity…” (I Corinthians 14:1). The word “follow” means to pursue, follow after, or press forward. If you can picture in your mind the posse, mentioned above, relentlessly pursuing bank robbers [or a dog completely focused on running down a rabbit that is trying to evade him], then you’ve begun to grasp the concept Paul was communicating. It isn’t enough for us to inactively wait for the Lord to fill us with a warm fuzzy feeling of love for others. We are to pursue love by seeking to capture it and make it our own. But how does one follow after love? It begins by realizing that brotherly love is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:23-24 lists it as the first, and by implication, the most important of all the godly qualities that the Holy Spirit seeks to produce in us. Since the Holy Spirit produces love, we can’t toil to produce it. God must grow it in us as we grow in Him. However, He does not do so against our will. We must have a surrendered heart to allow love for others to grow. It is in this context that Galatians 5:24 instructs us to “…crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts” (meaning to resist unloving tendencies) and “walk in the Spirit,” which would mean to yield to the Spirit when He seeks to grow brotherly love for others. Beyond this, we can pursue love by praying for the welfare and blessing of others. This is not praying for God’s judgment upon others who offend us, but praying for their well-being.
Among all the things we pursue in life, brotherly love needs to be near the very top of our list. Are you pursuing love for others? Today, do something concrete to demonstrate brotherly love to another Christian.
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