On Monday we discussed loving our brother and learned that our brother should include both Christians and non-Christians. We talked about treating everyone with love, fulfilling the two greatest commandments. Today we will discuss the standard Jesus set for His disciples.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 (ESV)
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12 (ESV)
Notice that Jesus didn’t suggest. He commanded that we love one another. And how did Jesus show His love for us? By laying down His life. Can you think of other specific ways that Jesus demonstrated His love?
So what is love? Is it the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see a new love? Is it the way you feel after you’ve worshiped? Or is it more practical and down to earth? The Bible sets some clear standards for us.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)
Wow! What a passage! Of course, my eyes fell right to verse 20! Let’s look at what we are to do if we want to show Christian love:
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer. (Do I pray for those I love AND for those that I am not so fond of?)
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (sometimes a card or letter will do more good than anything else!)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (aack! Is this as hard for you as it is for me?)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Of course, this list is impossible without God’s help. Which is hardest for you? I think the bless those who persecute you is the most difficult for me.
But that’s not all God has to say about brotherly love. We tend to love those who are most like us, and we tend to turn away from those who are different – maybe they have long dirty hair, or tattoos everywhere. Maybe they ride a motorcycle, or they are over- or underweight. We all tend to look down our noses at people, but that’s not what God wants us to do.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13 (ESV)
What kinds of stumbling blocks can our behavior place in someone’s path? Can my hard heartedness keep me from seeing the broken heart of the one in front of me? Can your prejudice against the biker, sporting tattoos, sitting next to you keep you from presenting the Gospel? When we place a hindrance in someone’s path, how does that affect us? How can we keep from putting hindrances in the way of others?
Think about those around you. How does your behavior need to change in your family? In church? In our neighborhood? Our jobs?
I leave you with three verses to ponder as you think of ways to better live to fulfill the two greatest commandments.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up . 1 Thess 5:11 (ESV)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2 (ESV)
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23 (ESV)