When we look at the 2 citations, we find similarities in David’s admonitions and in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Let’s take a quick look at the them. Romans says, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.” (Romans 12:9-16)
The Psalm has similar things to say. “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:11-14)
St. Paul, according to Bishop Vono at the retreat, admonishes us to have genuine love, or as Eugene Peterson translates verse 9: “love from the center of who you are, don’t fake it.” Love discerns and holds onto what is good. David, in Psalm 34 says “come, o children…I will teach you the fear of the Lord”. He says we should desire “life…and many days to enjoy good.” Enjoying life and God involves Love from God to us and from us to each other.
Vono noted that the Love referred to is brotherly (philos) affection for each other for we are all born of the same womb-of God and Christ. Love strives to show honor. Like an athlete who works to get better and better at a sport, we should strive to offer honor to one another. David calls us to “keep your tongue from evil and…speaking deceit.” Brotherly love and honor of one another’s similarities and differences help us to As Toby Mac sings, “Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted; Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope, You speak love…You speak Life”. (Speak Life by Toby Mac)
The Bishop continued by stating Love is enthusiastic and aglow with a spirit of service. Love is generous in contributing to needs. Love gets involved and is sympathetic to each other. Love lives in harmony by loving others as we love ourselves. Love has humility and is not haughty or conceited. David tells us that as we live a life in fear (awe) of the Lord, we “depart from evil, and do good, seek peace, and pursue it.” Peace and doing good flow from the Love we take in and the Love we breathe out to each other. The more we learn to love ourselves as Beloved of God, the more we can be channels of God’s love and peace and joy to those around us.
Jesus said “A new commandment I give, Love one another I as I have loved you” (John 13:34) and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) The verses from Romans and from Psalm 34 give us a roadmap of how to do that. Toby Mac has it right. He sings, “Some days, life feels perfect. Other days it just ain't workin. The good, the bad, the right, the wrong And everything in between.”
Loving my neighbor starts with loving myself. That isn’t always easy. We need to Speak Life to our own souls. When we do that, then we can “Lift your head a little higher, Spread the love like fire, Hope will fall like rain, When you speak life with the words you say….Use your words to inspire”…[yourself] even in what feels like the “deadest darkest night.”
What can you do today to Speak Life to yourself or to someone who is in need of a word of love?