As Jesus is getting closer to the end of His earthly ministry, He gives a new commandment. In John 13:34, Jesus tells the disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” He then tells them that this love they have for others would be the distinguishing mark of those who follow Him. Why is this a new commandment? Back in Deuteronomy 6:5, we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength. In Leviticus 19:18, we are instructed to love our neighbor as ourselves. Then in Matthew 5:43-48, we are taught that we must even love our enemies. So obviously loving God and others is not a new commandment. So what’s new about this commandment in John 13:34? The new commandment is that we are love one another as Jesus loves us.
If we are to love one another as Jesus loves us, then what does that love look like? One of God’s primary attributes is love. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is not a definition of God, but rather that His love permeates His essence in all that He is and everything He does. So when we truly know Him and experience His unfailing love towards us, there should be a desire for every person we come in contact with to want to experience His love also. Therefore, if we don’t love others, we must not know God on a personal level and have experienced His love. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 that love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, does not keep any record of wrongs, does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in truth, it always protect, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and it never fails. Only God has such an unwavering and unfailing love and He expressed that love to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus said in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” And that is exactly the purest and truest love there is – and Jesus did that for us. He loves perfectly.
Because we are made in God’s image, we should reflect His love. It would be impossible for us to love like Jesus on our own. This unselfish, perfect love can only come from God. Jesus demonstrated and taught us how to love and we can learn from the examples He set. While on earth, we often see Jesus in the role of a servant as he placed the needs of others above His own and He expects us to do the same. However, loving and serving others is not a burden, but a joy. Galatians 5:22 provides a list of spiritual fruit that is the result of having the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and one of those fruit is love. Jesus tells us in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Because He lives in us, we will bear His fruit which will overflow from us and the world will see and know that we belong to Him. So what is the distinguishing mark of being a disciple or follower of Jesus? Loving others as Jesus has loved us.
Jesus showed no partiality in who he loved. We can’t love like Jesus and only love those who dress, talk, or act like us. We can’t love like Jesus and love only those in the same social or economic class as us. We can’t love like Jesus and only love those who have the same color of skin as us. We can’t love like Jesus and only love those who are of the same denomination as us. There are no exceptions to Jesus’ love. There is no one so far gone in sin that Jesus doesn’t love. So if we love as Jesus loved, we can not put limits to who we love either.
Jesus showed no partiality in who he love or how he loved. In fact, Jesus loved us all so much that He gave His life for us. How did He love? Completely! His love us cost Him the cross. — click to tweet
Jesus also showed no partiality in how he loved. In fact, Jesus loved us all so much that He gave His life for us. How did He love? Completely. His love for us cost Him the cross. God knew before He ever created Adam and Eve that they would sin and it would send Jesus to the cross. He knew before He created you that you would sin and it would send Jesus to the cross – but He created us anyone because He loved us. Jesus willingly laid down his life because He loved us.
So does how you love others set a distinguishing mark on you as one of Jesus’ disciples? Does the world see how you love others and recognize you as a child of God?
God, Love and Marshmallow Wars: This book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.) It is also available at Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.
With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.