22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”And this is the word that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
In these verses, we are reminded of how limited the English language is in words to express love. We have one word, the Greeks had at least six words expressing different levels and types of love. Philia which means friendly and/or brotherly affection and is the word used here for the “love for each other”. The second word used here for love is agape which is the word that comes closest to expressing the kind of love Jesus showed for us when He chose to die on a cross for our sins. It is a totally selfless, unconditional love. It is a love that is unquenchable and no matter how much it gives, it is never satisfied. It only wants to give more and more. It is the kind of love that God wants us to have for Him and our brothers and sisters, as well as our enemies. The last part, “love for our enemies” is the one that gets our flesh in an uproar.Our flesh screams out, we have been wronged by that person and there is no way that I will ever forgive or love that person or those people. But Jesus told us in His model prayer to pray “forgive us as we forgive others” and we are also told:
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. — Matt. 6:14, 15 NIV
This is a requirement for those of us who have been born again. Our flesh is perishing but we are being renewed daily by the living Word of God. So, we must mortify the flesh and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit that so richly abides within each of us. That leadership will require us to love and to forgive at all costs.