Love One Another

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
John 15:12
On a day such as Valentine’s Day, how can we be encouraged to love in a way that
goes beyond all the giving of chocolates and roses, and hugs and kisses? We are
commanded to “love one another” after all, aren’t we?
In this short, yet profound passage, Christ instructed His disciples then, and
continues to instruct us (His disciples) today on love. Notice that verses 12
and 17 are the bookend verses to His teaching. Here is the doctrine He teaches
us; “love one another.”
1. Lay Down Your Life
This great love that Jesus is teaching is the kind of love that is willing to
die physically for its object. Verse 13 is one more verse in a plethora of
verses where Jesus tells His disciples that He will shortly go to the cross. The
object of His love are His “friends” – His disciples. Certainly Christ had been
showing His disciples His service to them for three years already. And now, to
go to the cross and die literally for them? Merely saying to someone that we
would lay down our life for them isn’t the point. The physical death is the
extreme case. We don’t have many opportunities to literally jump in front of an
oncoming car in order to die for someone. The point is that loving one another
means laying down our lives on a daily basis, when we have to be patient and
kind and generous and selfless with others. It means cleaning your room, picking
up the coat you laid on the couch, putting away the groceries, giving someone a
ride, helping in someone else’s kitchen, etc. Here then is our application – We
will only lay down our lives for one another in so far as we love one another as
friends. We will never lift a finger in love for those we don’t even like. Is
laying down our lives so difficult? I think sometimes it is. Our love toward
others can be cold, because we are not familiar with them, or we become
unfamiliar with them – we lose contact. But when our friendships increase, and
the fellowship is sweet, and the intimacy is deep, we find ourselves so willing
to do just about anything for them, don’t we? And that ought to be our desire.
Our desire should be to grow in our love for one another, just as Jesus’ love
grew for His disciples, so that if God should will that we literally die for one
another, we would die willingly, doing exactly what we will have been doing all
2. Be A Friendly Friend
Jesus had a personal affection for His friends, “YOU are MY friends” (emphasis
mine). After seeking them out, He then loved His disciples every day by spending
the next three years opening up His heart to them by teaching them, ministering
to them, and even putting up with them. If we own Christ as Savior, then we
ought to also follow His example. Verse 14 does away with all the two-facedness
of the “Sunday morning Christian greeting.” Bob says, “Hi, Bill! How was your
week?” Bill says, “Great! How was your week, Bob?” Bob says, “Mine was great
too!” That greeting isn’t necessarily hypocritical, but it can easily become the
knee-jerk response on the Lord’s Day. Now, we acknowledge that it would almost
be impossible to greet all the brethren, with equal time for intimate
conversation on the Lord’s Day morning or evening. But that is precisely what
the Christian life does not avoid the rest of the week. Friendliness can be
exercise all week long! Did someone miss Worship last Lord’s Day? How about a
simple phone call? Has someone been absent from the body lately? Are they
playing hide and seek from Sunday Worship? How about a surprise visit? Here then
is our application – If we are to “love one another” we ought to not avoid one
another throughout the rest of the week. Time for “friendship” is very
important. The intimacy of fellowship grows most easily with time spent
together. Friendliness is never exercised in a vacuum. Jesus chose His
disciples, and we need to actively seek out friends as well. Sometimes we have
to seek out those Christians that don’t know how to be friendly and show them
how to be a friend. This takes great patience sometimes, but it is well worth it
when we can exhort others to come out of their “shells”. We have to admit that
there is no such thing as the “stealthy, solitary Christian” in the Bible. We
ought to be growing in our friendships with one another all the week long as we
exercise our friendliness. But is this possible with everyone in the church?
Well, we simply have to be experts at handling our “friendship calendars”.
Christ made Himself accessible to all and that is our challenge.
3. Communicate Your Love
Jesus certainly loved the thousands that followed Him. He preached to all of
them and he even fed them! How’s that for the hospitality of our Savior?
However, He really spent much more time with the twelve. And even within the
twelve, it seemed that the three, Peter, James, and John, were better acquainted
with Christ. But it was John alone who reclined on Christ’s bosom (a sign of
brotherly affection from the “disciple whom Christ loved”). Plainly, there are
friendships, great friendships, intimate friendships, and what we would call
today, “my best friend(s).” Notice that these friendships include intimacy that
is based on communication, “…for all things that I have heard from My Father I
have made known to you” (verse 15). The friends of Christ “knew” what He was
doing. Jesus never hid things from His disciples, although some things were
difficult to understand. Jesus was the kind of God who opened His mouth and
communicated. He communicated well with everyone, didn’t He? From the masses to
His best friend, John. Here then is our application – Our love for “one another”
will increase the more we open up our hearts to one another as we open up our
mouths. It is silly for any husband to assume his wife “knows” he loves her if
he never TELLS her, isn’t it? The whole “secret admirer” thing never appealed to
me either. I always thought, “Well, if I like her, shouldn’t I TELL her???” It’s
a no brainer on “Valentine’s Day”. But what about the rest of the year? We have
to communicate our love by opening our mouths. Whales sing (moan). Dogs bark.
Kitty cats meow. But we, above all creatures of our God and King, are the only
ones given the ability to communicate our thoughts and emotions with language!
Obviously there are none verbal ways to communicate, but Jesus never left
anything for us to interpret. If His disciples didn’t understand something, He
would “explain” it. That’s what the Bible is. The Bible can be summed up this
way – our Master tells us His heart and tells us what He intends on doing
(declarative will and not secret will). And who among us wouldn’t say that some
of the best times we have had communicating with one another have been while we
communicated through the Word of God? But not just the Word of God, as supreme
as it is, but everything from “what’s your favorite color” to “what do you
really want to accomplish in life”. If we do not open up our mouths and
communicate at the appropriate levels of intimacy with one another, we will be
in danger of letting our love grow cold, and possibly lose even the love that we
currently have for one another.
4. Pray That Our Love Will Be A Fruitful Love
We are always brought to a humble state when we get back to the basics. The
twelve never sought Christ. It was Jesus who sought out that band of scraggly
fishermen and pressed them into a ministry that would for all eternity change
the souls of many. The twelve followed Him. Christ had even ordained all the
good fruit that they would bear (verse 16). Are we as saints today different? I
don’t think so. We have also be chosen from “before the foundation of the
world”. And we have also been ordained to bear good fruit (Ephesians 1:4 and
2:10). Here then is our application – We ought to pray fervently that our love
for one another will never grow cold, and that our love for one another will be
fruitful and plenteous. We cannot simply say we are the elect of God and not
bear fruit – especially the fruit of love (Galatians 5:22,23). And when the
Father hears our prayers to grow our affections for one another, He willingly
grants the increase. Our Christian living, obedience, and perseverance depends
so much on how much we pray for it. If we are not praying that God preserve our
local congregations, we can lose the love and peace He has granted us. If we
don’t pray that God help us to love even the unlovely in our churches, we simply
will never grow in our service or esteem for them. They will remain unlovely
because we refuse to love them. I bear witness to this kind of praying. I have
prayed for brethren in the past (I am thinking of a “loud-mouth Arminian buddy
from college), with whom I had issues with (and vice versa), that God would
sovereignly grant the grace of love and kill the sinfulness of pride. I now love
this brother with my whole heart (an not just because he is a Calvinist now!).
The pride was ripped out of our hearts, and the grace of love was implanted for
one another, so that we could fulfill Christ’s command in this passage. That is
what happens when we “ask of the Father” to increase our love for one another in
the name of Jesus Christ.
So, brethren, Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Today and every day, let us fulfill this
commandment. Let us love one another. May our love for one another be without
shame or guile. May our love for one another shed so much light upon the world
that the world would turn to Christ!!!
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23


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