I heard an old praise song the other day, and the lyrics dropped me. They said:
“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
This simple truth is based on the scripture, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NASB).
I have heard this scripture and this song many times in my life as a Christian, but it just kind of hit home for me. In my lifetime, can I honestly say that I can prove my discipleship to Christ by the love that I have shown to people? “But, Lord, I’m an introvert!” Ah, the introvert argument. I am an introvert, but that is no excuse to disobey the commandment of the Lord.
People often tell you that in the New Testament, the Old Testament Laws are all summed up in two commandments given by Jesus. As proof, they quote:
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NASB).
The first one sounds great – love God with all of our being. The second one sounds weird to me. Love our neighbor the same way we love ourselves. What if we don’t love ourselves very much? Does that mean we don’t have to love others very much, either? I have a difficult time with Christ telling us that we should use ourselves as the measuring stick for how much love we should divvy out to others. Now, before I get labeled as some blasphemous heathen, let me point out, that these weren’t truly the words of Christ, even if they were written in red! He was merely quoting from the Old Testament in answer to the question as to which of the existing commandments were the greatest. However, the scripture quoted earlier defines the true way to measure our love:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NASB).
Jesus’ one and only command to us is that we love one another. Not only that, but we are to love the same way that He did.
- He never turned anyone away from prayer
- He constantly interceded for others
- He didn’t worry about a person’s position in society, He treated all with dignity
- He met practical needs
- He met spiritual needs
- He met supernatural needs
This list is in no way complete. It is just a very small sampling. Hopefully, it gets you thinking about what other ways that Jesus showed love.
But then, you have to understand what love is. That’s easy. We just look to 1 Cor. 13 (the love chapter).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor. 13:4-8a ESV)
I wrote once before that since God is love (1 John 4:8) then it only make since that you can re-read this passage substituting the name of God (or Jesus) for the word love. That will give you a really good understanding of what the love of Jesus is.
Consider these stats about this portion of scripture:
Love is 2 things: patient and kind.
Love is NOT 4 things: arrogant, rude, irritable, or resentful.
Love does not: envy, boast, insist on its own way, rejoice at wrong doing
Love DOES: rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. But most of all, LOVE NEVER ENDS. The NASB says love never FAILS.
When you look over your actions with any one person this past week, were all of your actions able to be classified in the “love is” and “love does” lists? Did you ever have any actions that fell into the “love is not” or “love does not” lists? Make it easy to compare. Grade your actions against the person you love the most and work your way to the people you barely know. Are you always showing yourself to be a disciple of Christ by your love?
I like the way the J.B. Phillips translation reads:
This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. (1 Cor. 13:4-8a PHI)