In this week building up to Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about love – not “Hollywood” love, but real love as the Bible defines it.
There is only one time in the four biblical accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings that He utters “This is my command.” It wasn’t, “Thou must tithe.” It wasn’t, “Thou must be in church every time the doors are open.” It wasn’t even, “Thou must not cuss.” It was a simple but profound statement: “Love one another.” That’s not to say that we can ignore all the rest of what He said, but it means that this is a non-negotiable. We must love one another. John recorded four times Jesus said it. The epistles say it another eight times ( six of them in 1 John). God is serious about loving one another. Jesus specified how we are to love one another: “as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, 17). How did He love us? “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (v. 13). He loved us by laying down His life for you and me giving Himself for us that we might be saved. It’s very unlikely you will be called upon to die for someone, although many a soldier has done it, but you may be called to lay down something else for another. Like your time, your privilege, your resources, your opinion, your dreams, even – gasp – your phone. When Jesus commanded us to love one another as He loved us He meant with no reservation or hesitation. Whether you think they deserve it or not.
Jesus is the perfect model of loving others. The cross is the ultimate expression of His love, but there are some practical ways we can love others. “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love” by washing the disciples’ nasty feet. (John 13:1-17). When He was done He said, ”Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (13:14-15). Washing feet can take many forms – giving when there is a need, taking a meal, grocery shopping, taking care of kids, cutting the grass, repairing a leaky faucet, walking the dog, opening your home, sharing your resources. They are practical ways to show you are a follower of Christ.
Here are a few other ways the Bible says we can “Love one another.”
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom 12:10).
“Live in harmony with one another” (Rom. 12:16).
“Stop passing judgment on one another” (Rom 14:13).
“Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you,” (Rom. 15:7)
“Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love” (Gal 5:13).
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4:2).
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19).
“Bear with each other, and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (Col 5:13).
“Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
“Have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7).
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26; 1 Pet 5:14). Socially distanced, of course.
Did you notice that none of these are labor some or costly in terms of money? But they sure can be a challenge. Love one another Beloved, because Jesus loves you. And that’s reason enough.