Christian Living: The Command to Love

The Apostle John writes prolifically in his Gospel and his first epistle that, as disciples of Christ, we should love one another. He proclaims that loving one another is proof that Jesus is who He says He is. We might ask ourselves the question, then, what does it look like to love another as Jesus has commanded?

Is loving our brother a fuzzy, touchy-feely thing that takes place in the heart? Often that is a part of it, but there are many other practical ways that we can love our brother. First John 3:17-18, tells us that “…whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” John makes a pretty straightforward statement here. If we truly love our brother, we will help him with his needs. In other words, love requires action on our part.

Loving our brother can be as simple as a word of encouragement, a listening ear, a kind word in a difficult situation or just being there in a time of need. One of the most difficult situations in which we must show love for another believer is when we really don’t like him. Perhaps that person is irritating us at the moment. We certainly cannot categorize this kind of love as “warm and fuzzy.” Nonetheless, we are commanded to love all the brothers, even those who are doing things we don’t like.

The truth of the matter is we don’t have to hang out with the “unlikeable,” but when we are around them we must treat them with genuine love. The blessing comes when God honors our efforts and eventually changes our hearts toward them. It’s a universal truth: Actions first, then the feelings follow.

As God’s children we are expected to love others in the same way He loves us. And this is the love Jesus has for us: He was willing to lay His-life down for us. He gives to us when we are in need. He encourages us, listens to us and is always with us. Incredible as it may seem, even when He is hurt by the sinful things we do, He continues to love us. That’s the kind of love we are commanded to have for our brothers.

When we put into action the kind of love Jesus has for us, it proves that Jesus is who He says He is. Simply put, it is impossible for us to love all people in our own strength. We are able solely because He dwells within us. And when we do what Jesus does, loving others as ourselves, others see Him in us and know that Jesus lives!

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