34″A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34, 35
What does this mean? Are casual handshakes and smiles in congenial Sunday services enough, or is there more? This command that Christ gave is no small endeavor, and is one of great importance. Love must permeate the church. It must be an intrinsic part of who we are as the body and bride of Christ. If we have all the right answers, all the good deeds, but don’t have love, what do we have? Nothing. (See 1Corinthians 13)
Christ –in John 13: 34, 35–says three times we must love one another.So it is that we have three examples of why we must love each other.
1. Because He said so!
Should not this be the most evident and compelling argument why we must love one another? Christ often spoke in parable, but not here! Here, GOD is direct, explicitly telling us what He wants from us. Love your brothers and sisters!
GOD commands not only our love for him (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37), but also that we love one another. (Matthew 22:39, John 13:34,35)
2.Because He did it!
We are called to be imitators of GOD. Ephesians 5: 1 and 2 says:
1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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.
This most definitely is a verse that reiterates what Christ Himself commands in John 13: 34 :” . . . As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ”
We must be as Christ and give of ourselves sacrificially in order to love this body of believers as He loves it. We may not be called to die for our brothers and sisters, but we can sacrifice our pride; our need to be “right” in an argument; our comfort in order to make each other feel welcome; or to right a wrong between one another even if you are not at fault.
I will admit that this is very hard to do sometimes, but GOD commands it of us and so love we must. Have you considered when another offends you and you hold them in contempt that this contempt makes a mockery of the love Christ showed you on the cross, despite your sin? When I realized this it changed my entire outlook. When I am offended I have but to look at the cross and see how silly this must seem to GOD. My pride calls out, “Look what they did to me! How could I possibly love them?” At this The Lord answers, ” You love them by looking at what I did, not only for you, but for them also!”
Is it impossible for the power that raise Christ from the dead–which lives also in us (Romans 8:11)–to soften our hearts toward our brothers and sisters in Christ? Absolutely not! How wonderful to know that we don’t have to do this on our own! Christ gives us strength to do anything, even the impossible.
3. If we don’t love each other as Christ intends us to we rob non-believers of the opportunity to see His love in us.
35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [Jhn 13:35 ESV]
This is the evidence of Christ in our lives, as we fade away, he appears. When we love one another, nonbelievers can see real love in our lives: the very love of Jesus Christ. “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”(1 Corinthians 9: 16c) And this, not only with my lips, but with my very life, with my love for others. GOD forbid it that I be a stumbling block to non-believers coming to the saving knowledge of Christ because I don’t feel like leaving my comfort zone and reaching out in love to those whom I have been bound to in Christ Jesus. In the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” ( and no, this is not an excuse to forgo the use of words. Live it. Preach it.)
I don’t write these things so as to say that I have always done this, or even that I will perfectly execute it in the future. I write it in order that you may understand that it is of great importance to Christ, and so it must be to us.
It is not enough to say ” I love you brother,” but we must also make an effort to reach out to those around us and gain a relationship. We must take care of each other brothers and sisters, because the world does not know us and does not care for us at all. If we are to be set apart from non-believers we must love.
13Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death…18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:13-14, 18
Loving in action and in truth means taking care and providing for others when they are need (James 2:16; Matthew 25: 34-40). It means not being afraid to be honest with each other, gently rebuking and correcting each other when we are in sin ( Galatians 6: 1), and encouraging those who are in need (Ephesians 4:29; Hebrews 10: 24-25). Love means being patient, kind, content. It means being humble and polite with each other (I said polite, not political.), and not insisting on having our own way all the time. (1 Corinthians 13:4-6) Love means that we resist the temptation to act like children, fussing and fighting, and instead act in godly maturity, seeking to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us. (Hebrews 13: 11; Romans 12:18)
Dear Brothers and sisters, Christ loves us. He has undeniably and immeasurably proven this over and over again. He expects that we will do the same for each other. In-fact, He commands it of us.
How will you love your brothers and sisters in Christ today?
May the peace of GOD which transcends all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.