Virtue 4: Love
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, and overall these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Love—not gallantry or pride—should drive a knight to be a knight and should govern his thoughts and actions. Before even looking into this virtue, let’s first start with the very definition of love provided by Scripture:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Do you notice the knightly virtues in this passage? Patience, kindness, humility, seeking the best for others, forgiveness, truth-seeking, protection, trust, hope, and perseverance. All of these are
Why are these traits important? They are important because you waste your life if you do not live by them:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but has not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Without love, your knightly life, virtue, and deeds are worthless. According to the passage above, without love, your life is reduced to a clanging symbol, you are nothing, and you can gain nothing. For these reasons, a true knight lives with love as his life’s main goal. All of his actions should come from a place of love—especially, those actions that require defending others in the heat of battle.
How can this be done? How can a knight love others? Consider this: In order to share the love of Christ with others, one must first experience it. We must first understand that we are loved and forgiven. The gospel of John is sometimes called the Gospel of Love because even the very first chapter explains in no uncertain terms that we are loved by God as individuals: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (1:12-13). Put simply, our belief and faith in Christ give us the right to become children of God. He adopts us when we believe in Him unconditionally and fully, without reservation. And it is through this faith in Him that we receive grace and acceptance from the Creator of the Universe:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2).
After we get this first part straight and understand it with the simplicity and wholeheartedness of a child (Mark 10:15), we can then share it with others. By knowing and feeling that we are unconditionally loved and accepted as adopted children of God, His grace and forgiveness flows from our lives and encourages us to love and forgive others. Just as Christ works with us and through us despite our shortcomings and weaknesses, we must bear with others: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1), and “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Finally, we show our love for others by our forgiveness: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. —Ephesians 5:1-2
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. —Romans 15:1
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing right. —James 2:8
Ponder on these questions
1. Why is it important that God loves us first?
2. What does it mean to “bear with” others?
3. When do we confront others in love, and when do we overlook and “bear with” others?
4. Why is love a knightly trait and not a trait for wimps?
5. Why are hatred, gossip, and cruelty easier than love?