Jesus Says Love One Another

 
“I know Jesus says love one another. But you don’t know these people!”

Brothers and sisters, it’s possible. If God is love, and we are of God, then it has to be.

Jesus was love incarnate, love in action. He also commanded the disciples to love one another. In fact, Jesus proclaimed, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

How are others to know we are Christians?

Not by how holy we are! Not by signs and wonders. Not by impressive knowledge of the Bible or correct theology. All of that is GOOD, but without love it amounts to nothing.

“But I don’t have such a loving disposition!” You’ve got more than you think. Here’s how to bring it out…
 

The thirteenth chapter of Corinthians is often read at weddings but it’s more than a sweet bit of prose. It’s a display of God’s kind of love, and it reveals how far short most of us come. The church at Corinth had the gifts and power, yet had to be corrected because they lacked love. In the book of Revelation, the church at Ephesus had good works and hated falsehood, yet had to be corrected because they fell short on love.

Conversely, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “We are bound to thank God always for you…because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2Thessalonians 1:3; NKJV). Because their love abounded, Paul felt bound to give thanks. Where love abounds, thanksgiving rebounds!

There are superstar preachers. There are fruitful ministries. But the real test of discipleship is in love. There will be surprises in the kingdom, when those we thought were greatly used by the Lord may actually be lower than some of the unknowns, because the unknowns excelled in love.

Legend has it that when the apostle John was much older, his disciples carried him to church meetings and he would simply preach, “Little children, love one another!” After hearing this over and over again, his listeners asked him why he never preached anything else. He answered, “It’s the Lord’s command, and if this alone be done, it’s enough.”

The exhortation to love one another is predominant in the new covenant. Loving the Lord and our neighbor fulfills the law (Matthew 22:38-40; Romans 13:8). Things work better when the law is fulfilled! Some people complain of having weak faith, not understanding that faith “worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). Increase the output of godly love towards others, and faith will grow stronger.

So many believers seek the power of God without placing the highest priority on loving others. But while miracles may fail to manifest, we know that love never fails (1Corinthians 13:8). And I believe we would see more miracles if we would get our priority of love right.
 

I’ve gotta love THOSE people?

 
Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1Peter 1:22-23).

Notice that Peter expects unfeigned love of the brethren and fervent love with a pure heart from everyone! It’s not just expected of the sweet grandmothers. And it’s not just to be given to the desirable ones! Everyone is to love one another, and with a pure heart- not a Sunday show! I used to think Peter was asking too much here. How many people really love like this, even within the church? How is it possible to genuinely love those we consider unlovely, and to do it fervently?

It’s possible because we have been born again. Peter expected this because he knew that the incorruptible word of God was up to the task. You may not feel like you have much love for others, but if you have been born again, it’s in there. Paul confirmed that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

Most people have the wrong idea and think of love only in terms of emotions. If they don’t feel anything, they must not be able to love. God’s kind of love, however, is a spiritual power, and it’s exercised by faith. It needs to be put to work. It’s not like cupid just comes and hits you with an arrow. An incredible supply has already been shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. It’s up to us to access it and put it on.

It would be nice to be so full of God that we just flow supernaturally in His goodness. As we grow, it does flow more. But until then, we have to make deliberate choices to walk in God’s ways. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering…but above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14). These qualities must be put on. When you woke up this morning, you made a choice to put on certain clothes. You need to choose to put on what God has provided for you in Christ.

You could have a wonderfully thick coat to wear in the winter time and go out without it. You forgot to put it on, and now you struggle with the cold air. In our day when the love of many is waxing cold, we need to above all these things, put on love. It’s necessary to spend time alone with the Lord each day and get adjusted to His spirit.

Look how Paul encouraged it: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on…” You have to see yourself as the elect, and as holy and beloved. If you are these, then put on the appropriate clothing!

As the elect, we have an office to fulfill. We are God’s representatives. A president will not appear before others without presidential clothing. He’s been elected to his office, and he must dress the part. If we are the elect of God, then let’s put on as the elect of God!

We are also holy and beloved. If God has blessed us so much to see us this way, it should encourage us to be able to love others. God loved us when we were sinners, how much more now that we have been changed? Carry yourself as one loved. Don’t droop along and insult what God has done for you by being self-critical all the time. As one holy and BELOVED, put on…

Love is the bond of perfection. Everything falls apart without it. Love really is the answer, and it may be that so much would start to fall in place and work better if we just got moving in God’s kind of love. Paul wrote that we should pursue love (1Corinthians 14:1). The Amplified Bible states it this way: “EAGERLY PURSUE {and} seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest].” Above all, put on love.
 

Human love vs divine love

 
In order to pursue it, we need to be clear we are pursuing the right kind of love. There’s a difference between common human love and God’s divine love.

Some teachings suggest that God’s divine love is represented by the Greek word, agape, while human love is seen in the word, phileo. Just to clear something up: the teaching is technically wrong. It sounds good, but if you search out these terms, you will find that they are used as synonyms. There is no difference in them, except that the word agape is used more often. But in some places sinners are said to have agape (usually taught as divine godly love) and in some places the Lord is said to have phileo (usually taught as weaker human love). (See for example, 2Tim.4:10; John 3:19, 12:43; John 5:20; 16:27).

Nonetheless, the point can still be made that there’s a difference between God’s kind of love and human love. We see a picture of divine love in 1 Corinthians 13. And Jesus is the model. We want to make it our aim and great quest to love like God.

Human love is generally selfish. It’s attracted by beauty and good feelings. It pays attention to those it agrees with. It’s fond of those who meet its needs. Divine love is selfless and giving. God so loved the world that HE GAVE. While we were ugly sinners, while there was nothing for God to feel good about with us, He loved us and gave His Son. Jesus met the needs of so many, and very few ministered to Him. Yet He went forward to the cross willingly, in the midst of insults and jeers. From the cross He forgave His enemies. Human love says, “Why should I do anything for so and so after what they did to me?”

Human love is often fickle. If needs aren’t being met, it grows weary or cold. Divine love is enduring. God’s mercy endures forever. He spoke in Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Think of it! Everlasting means never ending. You can’t blow it with God. You can disappoint Him, but you can’t get Him to stop loving you. The prodigal son left his loving father, but his father never stopped loving him. Parents often exhibit God’s kind of love for their wayward children. But many husbands and wives operate on human love. Once they discover more flaws than favorables, they start thinking cheat or divorce.

Human love tends to destructive anger. It’s reactive. It erupts if its feelings are hurt or needs are unmet. It’s all about “me.” It feels attacked, so it in turn retaliates. Divine love tends toward constructive discipline. It’s proactive. It will take measures to lovingly correct something that is damaging to the other. God loves us and will discipline us, but it is never in anger: “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD who has mercy on you” (Isaiah 54:9-10; NKJV).

When it comes to loving others, put on the divine love. It’s the way to make God seen. “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1John 4:12). It’s the way to know and experience more of God’s love firsthand.

Also, when it comes to loving God, put on the divine love. Sometimes we relate to God in human love. The minute it looks like He hasn’t come through for us, we get upset or even angry. In contrast, Job revealed that he was operating in divine love. When tragedy came, his wife suggested that he curse God! But in all his suffering he was able to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 15:13). Job didn’t understand that it wasn’t God slaying him. Job didn’t know about the devil. We know that God only wills good for us, and that it’s the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Still, we can learn from such a statement the love and loyalty that moves toward God unconditionally.
 

The Faith Love Cycle

 
Faith works by love, not by creed. You can recite all the right truths and traditions and never move an inch upwards in faith. You need love. But in order to know this love you need faith, so it sounds like a vicious cycle- “if I don’t have love I can’t have faith, but I need faith in order to know love!”

The good news is that it’s not a vicious cycle, but a happy cycle. You can easily step on at any point and get moving with it. “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1John 4:16). It starts with knowing and believing, not just that God has love, but that it is TO US (or for us). So you begin with this knowing, that it’s for me. Then you believe it. Believing it requires shutting out any contrary thoughts or suggestions otherwise. Many Christians need to shut out their own self talking and critical introspections. Stop focusing on yourself and start focusing on Jesus and dwell there. That’s dwelling in love.

Then put it on. It may take all morning before you go out to get yourself in the right frame of mind. But put it on deliberately and be mindful of it as you encounter others. By faith, act on what you believe. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1John 4:12). By walking in love, you will believe better and your faith will grow!

You will be able to love those you find undesirable. How? By remembering the Lord’s love, and by seeing them not as they are, but as they could become. And loving others doesn’t mean that you have to have warm gushy feelings for everybody. It just means that you treat and respond to others like Jesus.

“What if they take advantage of me?” This doesn’t mean you become a doormat. But you respond like Jesus. And if they do take advantage of you, they took advantage of him, too. The cross leads to the resurrection, and the resurrection means power. You can’t lose. Love never fails.
 
 

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