It’s not hard to get off course.  Sometimes when you are on a long road trip, missing one exit can put you miles away from your destination.  If an airplane flying across the Pacific is off course by just one degree, it’s not going to land in Hawaii.  The ancient mariners used fixed stars to determine their position and set their course.  As Christians, we have some fixed points that help us navigate this journey through life.  Peter gives us a spiritual “north star” to navigate by when he writes, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22 ESV).

Our “north star” is love, and Peter’s navigation instruction works like this:  As we live our lives, we are supposed to be learning about how to obey the Lord.  As we obey the Lord, our souls are purified.  But there’s a goal to our obedience—to cultivate “sincere” brotherly love.  Obedience without love is liable to go off course.  “Sincere” love is love that isn’t covered up or an act.  Sincere love is sure and steady.  And as we are learning to point our obedience towards a sincere love, we are supposed to do something – we are to love “earnestly” or “fervently”.  We learn to love for the purpose of loving.  It’s all about love.

So which way is your ship sailing?  Are you on course?  Sometimes loving people can result in hurt, so sometimes we want to quit.  But love is a good thing.  Love is our goal.