” A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Knowing He was soon leaving this earth, Jesus gave as His last instruction to His disciples to love one another as He loved them. Since we who are in Christ are likewise His disciples, this final instruction is also our commandment. Over the years, I have thought about this verse a lot. I have turned to it when I have struggled to love someone in a way that would honor God. Let’s be honest; sometimes it is very difficult to love all people in all circumstances and sometimes it just doesn’t feel possible. Whether it is because that someone hurt us too deeply or because we in our human nature feel that the someone simply doesn’t deserve our love. Meditating on this verse usually redirects my heart to God thereby softening my heart and enabling me to better love that someone.
Since loving others as He loves us was the last instruction Jesus gave to His disciples we know it must be of great importance to Him. Jesus’ last command was not to have faith or to pray or to fast or any of the other very important spiritual disciplines, but rather to love one another as He loves us. Jesus could have given any instruction, but the one final imperative He chose to leave was for His disciples to love one another. This realization has always helped me to keep a gentle heart toward others, even those that have hurt me. This week I have been meditating more on this verse and this commandment to love one another as God loves us and it struck me that we love God by loving others. When we honor Jesus’ final instruction to love one another, we show our love for God.
This morning at Prayer service, I was in the ladies room chatting with a friend (because that is what women do, we chat in the ladies room) and as we wrapped up our conversation, making plans to see each other again, she very casually said to me “I love you” and of course, I responded with the same sincere expression of love and affection. As I exited the ladies room feeling loved, valued and appreciated, I thought about how often a friend at church tells me that she loves me and how often I tell friends that I love them. These are not words said as mere pleasantry without genuine sincerity. These words are spoken by women of God, over women of God because as women of God we do love one another as Jesus loves us. This verse took on new application this morning when I realized that every time we encourage our friends with love and kindness, we are loving them as Jesus loves us. This command is more than a reminder to love when it is difficult, but is also an encouragement to love generously without reservation whenever God gives us the opportunity.
I attend Church of the Highlands and most of the people in my life now are people that I have met through service and small groups there. These women are more than my friends; they are spiritual caretakers, mentors and mentees; they are family; they are the people who love me and walk along side me encouraging me in my walk with God. There have been many times when I went to church feeling heavy with what seemed like such a big burden at the time, but encountered a friend who lifted me up with encouraging words leaving me feeling loved, refreshed and ready to share the love poured into me with someone else. I pray that everyone who reads this post is encouraged to join a life giving church and get involved in service and small groups. God wants to pour out His love for you through others. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ Tracey
Your turn: What scripture about love speaks to your heart? Have you been hurt by someone but by God’s grace loved them through your pain? Have you put your favorite love verse into action? I would love to hear about your experiences. ~ Breath on Paper