Love in the body of Christ starts with humility. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-3). These qualities; humility, gentleness, and patient forgiveness are exactly how Jesus Christ demonstrated His love to us. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29).
Look at the following passage of admonitions for healthy body life in the church. Notice the thread of love and humility that flows through it. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation” (Rom 12:9-16).
Self-promotion and self-righteousness are the enemies of love. A proud and self-righteous attitude was one of Jesus’ chief complaints against the Jewish leaders of His day. He said of them, “I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and do not seek the the glory that is from the one and only God?” (Jn 5:41-44). In contrast to Jesus, the Jewish leaders sought the glory of men rather than the glory of God. Why? Jesus makes clear in verse 42, because they lacked the love of God in their heart. Love and selfish ambition are not compatible while love and humility are inseparable friends.
Finally, the apostle Paul, exhorts the church to maintain our unity through love and humility and holds up Jesus as our example. “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:2-8).
“Make my joy complete.” The greatest church planter in the history of the world was overjoyed by churches that were united in spirit, maintained in love, and marked by humility. Finding these in our own church – in ourselves and our community of believers – are cause for much joy.