revdrwalter-t-richardson.jpg"Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.” –  I Corinthians 13:4-7

Every day the media is replete with incidents of hatred, family violence and community unrest. It seems to me that these unfortunate events are fueled by the poison of pride and the passion for power.  Competition is more important than community, conflict is more prevalent than conversation and selfishness is more

practiced than sharing. Never has there been a time in modern history when the need for an infusion of love is more paramount.

Lydia Maria Child, who was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and novelist, wrote in one of her journals in the 1850s that “the cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows, and the crimes of humanity, all lie in that one word ‘love.’ It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life.”

This author, who wrote the very popular poem, Over the river and through the woods, took on issues of male dominance and white supremacy by issuing challenges to her white audiences to learn to love everyone equally. Lord, teach us to love!

My sister-in-law Corliss wrote in her book Treasures in the Word that “love disarms hostility, dissolves hurts, destroys hatred and diffuses havoc.” Lord, teach us to love!

The concept of love is one of the most permeating themes in modern society. The Temptations and the Four Tops sang about it in the ‘60s. According to, there are more than 32,000 books currently in print with the word “love” in the title, with more than 145,000 that deal with the subject of love and more than 11,000 popular CDs with “love” in the title.

If you do a Google search on the Internet, you will discover at least 121 million websites that that use the word “love” as one of their key words. It is unmistakable how important love is to our culture and the need for love is.

But, with all this information available, love has become a very confusing subject. When I watch TV, check the Internet or scan magazines in the checkout lines, it’s clear that our society has a very poor understanding of love. 

I read some time ago about a single mother with two school-aged children. This mother had a busy social life – too busy, in fact. Because the children got in the way of her fun, she loaded them up with cough medicine. With the kids drugged to sleep, she and the boyfriend were free to do what they wanted.

The mother and boyfriend left the house and the kids unattended. When the authorities intervened to rescue those children, this woman protested, “I love my children!” This woman was very confused about what love is.

In the Christian scriptures, “love” is described in 1 Corinthians 13 as personal, proven, perfecting and persevering. Yes, in other words, real love is unending, unselfish and unconditional.

And God’s love for us was demonstrated when He allowed His son to die on Calvary in our stead. Lord, teach us how to love!

So, maybe, one day, we’ll stop the violence towards one another and end the racial struggles and the political strife. But it won’t happen until we learn to love.

Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at   Website: