Love One Another!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Just as Jesus was the embodiment of God’s love, we are to be the embodiment of His love. He now gives this charge to all of His followers … we must love one another!

“Christ became what we are that He might make us what He is.”
-Athanasius of Alexandria

Loving others is both a great duty and a high calling as it helps to strengthen those around us by lovingly encouraging and refreshing them along the way. It is a Christian grace that is not to be merely in our heads, but a practice in our lives. We must live out this love in our tempers and our words, in our being and in our doing. It must show forth in our behavior and conduct toward all, and in particular fellow believers, regarding them as brothers and sisters. There is nothing that the world needs more than the demonstration of pure Biblical love. People may not understand theology or doctrine but they can experience Christian love. True love will capture their attention and often their hearts. True love always points to Jesus. It is quite different from the emotional love that the world blasts forth. We will also discover that as we love and encourage others we will be strengthened as well.

“Let us note how far from satisfactory is the state of those who are content with sound doctrinal opinions, and orthodox correct views of the Gospel, while in their daily life they give way to ill-temper, ill-nature, malice, envy, quarrelling, squabbling, bickering, surliness, passion, snappish language, and crossness of word and manner. Such persons, whether they know it or not, are daily proclaiming that they are not Christ’s disciples. It is nonsense to talk about justification, and regeneration, and election, and conversion, and the uselessness of works, unless people can see in us practical Christian love.” -John Charles Ryle

Love is a fundamental and everlasting command of Christ. It is to be the badge of all our Lord’s disciples. It is His desire for us to be noticed for our love as a distinguishing trait of His family. Just as our earthly families have familial traits, love is to be our spiritual familial trait. This goes against the grain of the world, which touts an “every man for himself” mentality. This is not to be the way of the Christian! Scripture is filled with the call for love amongst Christian brothers. John writes in one of his letters that our love for one another is a sign that we are truly children of the King:

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:14)

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
(1 John 4:10-12)

What exactly does the love of Christ look like? Paul gives us a clear description of this high calling in 1 Corinthians. It is only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit’s power equipping and enabling us that we are able to consistently live this out. Biblical love does not come to us naturally. This is why when it is demonstrated in a life, it points to God and never fails to bear fruit. Paul writes:

“All the commandments of God are commandments of love tending to our real good and great happiness; far from being grievous to those who have faith and love, the practice thereof is life and peace. The world may think it a grievous burden; but this is a great mistake indeed. Sin is grievous. In hatred, envy, anger, revenge, pride, there is nothing but torment and slavery; but in love there is a sweet rest and pleasure. Thus a sinner always punishes himself, and is robbed of great peace and blessing, by transgressing the commandments of God.”
-K. H. Von Bogatzky

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 hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Take It to Heart

Paul says that if anything is done apart from the motivation of love–no matter how wonderful–it is worth nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Indeed, he states it is greater than faith and hope (1Corinthians 13:13). As Christians, we are to be a people known and marked by love.

“It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life. They have found a joy and a wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls.  They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians … and I am one of them.” (Letter to Donatus from St. Cyprian of Carthage, mid 3rd century)