On Thursday we talked about the definition of love. We answered the question, “What is love?” We talked about what it really is besides just, “a strong feeling of affection.” From John 3:16, we began to understand more about the idea that love is a decision to give sacrificially.
That’s very different from the first definition that we encountered.
Trying to understand what love really is requires us to look deeper than a simple definition – be it a dictionary definition or one that we form from a Bible verse.
That, my friends is what I invite you to do with me today – look a little deeper. Let’s look a little deeper at love, and let’s look a little deeper at love in our own lives.
Again, using God’s Word as the source for our study, let’s fast forward some 10 chapters from John 3 to John 13 and look at verse 34 which says,
“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
Now, we could easily continue our definition of love and say that it is, “a commandment given by the Lord Jesus to the believer which, when obeyed causes said believer to decide to give sacrificially.” If we did so, we would simply be adding to the definition of what love is – both a commandment and a decision.
But, rather than continuing to build on the definition of what it is, I’d like to look at why we do it.
Why do we love each other? Or, better why should we love each other?
- Because Jesus commanded us to. I know that sounds a little like something your mother would say, but it is true. If we say that we love Him, we should be motivated by that love to obey his commandments. It is Jesus’ expressed desire that we love one another, so without much discussion or arguing, the right thing to do would be to love each other. In Matthew 22:36, a lawyer asked Jesus,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It’s so important to love one another, that the only thing more important is loving God. Jesus placed that sort of importance on our love for each other that, in more than one place, he commanded it. There are only two options – love each other or be blatantly disobedient. So, not loving because we don’t feel like it is not an excuse. Not loving each other because we don’t like one another, is not an excuse. Following commandments are not optional in the Christian life, they are essential.
- To show others that we are Jesus’ followers. The very next verse tells us, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have lone one to another.” This is the epitome of lifestyle evangelism. I want people to know that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. How do I do that? By telling them? In the world today, there are so many hypocrites and hustlers that words just don’t do the job. You’ve heard all of the old adages and their numerous variations that, ultimately boil down to this: Actions speak louder than words. People don’t listen to what you are saying, they watch what you are doing. So instead of telling people that we follow Jesus, let’s show people by actually following him. Again, I want people to know that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. How do I do that? By going to church? By dressing differently? By praying over my meal in public? By listening to Christian music? All good things to do, but none of them are what Jesus told his disciples to do if they wanted to distinguish themselves from the world. He said that everybody would know that we are real disciples of Christ, if we just loved each other.
- Because it’s what God’s people do. Keeping with the same author, but changing books, let’s look at 1 John 4:7:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God…
Why should we love each other? Because true love comes from God. Or, said another way, God is the source of all love, and it is what everyone who has true love in them does. As much as the world wants to make true believers hate-filled people that are against everything, those that have been born again are loving, forgiving, sharing people. If God is love (and He is, according to 1 John 4:8), and He lives within us, then our lives will be characterized by love. Our lives will be driven by love. Love, along with the other pieces of the fruit of the Spirit (joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance), will be the lens through which we see our world, and the paradigm through which we interact with it.
Let’s look at one more proof text that sort of sums up all the reasons why we should love one another. In 1 John 4:19-21 we find the main and possibly only biblical reason why we should love God. But then John builds on that reason to show why we should love one another. He says,
We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
It’s really that simple. Love or disobedience.