Love One Another
John 15:12-15 ESV
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Our Lord commands us to love one another. But this is not human love he is talking about. This love is not based in emotions. It is not lust. It is not selfish. It is not self-serving. And, it isn’t just about doing good deeds and telling people what will make them feel good about themselves, either.
This is agape love, which is divine love, which is centered in moral preference, in preferring what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, moral, honest, trustworthy, godly, and upright. For the believer in Jesus Christ, it is thus to prefer to live through Christ, embracing his will for our lives, choosing his choices for our lives (1).
So, when we love others with this kind of love, it will be a pure love which considers truly what is best for them, and what will be healthful for them spiritually. So, it will never coddle them in their sins, lead them into sin, approve of sin or sin against them in any way. Thus, we will not lie to them, gossip about them, cheat, steal from, or commit adultery against them.
Also, this kind of love is self-sacrificial. It is willing to be hated, despised, rejected, mocked, called crazy, and attacked verbally, etc., to show this kind of unconditional love to others. Thus, it will not hesitate to speak the truth in love where necessary, too, knowing what is best and what is needed to help others to find freedom from bondage to sin.
Also, this kind of love is obedient to our Lord’s commands, under the New Covenant. For, to love God is to obey God, and to love others is also to obey God, for God is love (Jn 8:51; Jn. 14:23-24; Rom. 6:16; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
Go and Bear Fruit
John 15:16-17 ESV
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
We read in Scripture that love does no harm to its neighbor, and we also read examples of how people loved one another, and the love was in what they did for others, not in what they felt. So, love is doing, but not just doing what we want, or what we think others want, or what will make them feel good about themselves and about us.
So, what does us bearing fruit and us loving one another have to do with each other? Well, if we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and living out through us, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, this fruit should be evidenced in our lives, and this fruit is about loving God and others.
Also, the fruit that we bear should be in keeping with repentance, and repentance means to have a change (transformation) of mind of the Spirit of God so that we no longer crave sin, and so we are no longer in bondage to sin, but so that we forsake our lifestyles of sin to walk in obedience to our Lord. We were headed one direction. Now we have turned, and we are now going in the opposite direction, in the way of the Lord Jesus.
So, the fruit (outgrowth, produce, result, outcome) that we bear reveals whether or not we have had this change of mind, and if we have truly changed courses, and if we truly love God and others or if we are still lovers of self, self-indulgent, still living to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh.
So, it is not enough to say to God or to others “I love you.” We must show them love by how we treat them. But, again, this is divine love, not human love, so it is not based in emotion but in the holiness of God and what he prefers for our lives. If we love God, we will thus obey him. If we love others, we will show them that love by how we treat them.
If the World Hates You
John 15:18-21 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
But not everyone is going to love us, right? Even just in the natural sense of humanity, not everyone loves everyone else. We are always going to have people who just don’t like us for some reason. It may be they won’t like our personalities, or they will be jealous of our giftedness. Or they won’t like our looks, or they will feel we are above them or beneath them.
Nonetheless, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, and we truly die with him to sin, and we are changed in our minds, and we are made new in Christ Jesus, people are not going to like us, just because of our faith in Jesus Christ. For, it will be an offense to those who are still walking in darkness that we are now walking in truth and in our Lord’s righteousness.
And, this doesn’t just take place when we first believe in Jesus, but as we grow in him, and as we mature in our walks of faith, and as we are convicted of more things, and as we separate ourselves more and more from the ways of this sinful world, and as we are becoming like Christ. Those who know us, who were used to us the other way, may not like the changes in our lives.
And, then if we are verbal about our faith, and we share our faith in Jesus Christ with others, more people will separate themselves from us.
And, when we begin to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are, and when we proclaim the deep truths of the Christian faith in opposition to those lies, we will even have more opposition against us, even from members of our own family and from the church and from church leaders.
But this should not be something to be avoided or considered odd for the believer in Jesus. For, if the world (the ungodly) does not hate us, then we should be concerned. It may be a sign that we have not come out of the world but that we are still one with the world in heart and mind. And, so the world does love us as its own because we aren’t different from them.
But know this! There isn’t anything that God will call us to endure in this life that Jesus didn’t endure first, and that God doesn’t have a plan to bring good out of it. For, our Lord allows us to suffer in this life to purify us, to make us holy, to mature us in him, and so that we will know and feel his heart, and so we will be passionate about what he is passionate about.
And, through it all, through all that he calls us to suffer in this life, he will teach us what it truly means to love him above all else, and he will teach us the true meaning of love for others, too.
For, our suffering will break us, and it will humble us, and it will teach us compassion and mercy, too. And, because we suffer, we will also be more sympathetic towards others who suffer, too. We will never be soft on sin, though, but we will love one another enough to truly do what is best for them without thought for ourselves. And, that is because we realize that love is not what we feel, but it is what we do.
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer
Used by permission