By Jack Glover
God taught Christians to be loving people. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
In this verse, Jesus uses Himself as an example of how we are to love one another. We are to love in the same way Jesus loved us. This command is repeated in John 15:12-13, where we are told, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” In both His teaching and His example, Jesus was love.
Some of his teachings were to:
- Love your enemies (Matt. 5:43-44).
- Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 19:19).
- Love God with all your soul, heart and mind (Matt. 22:37).
- Obey Jesus to prove our love (John 14:23).
- Understand that love is a command, not an option (John 15:17).
Love often is advocated these days but seldom practiced as the Bible teaches it. Everyone thinks they deserve the love of others but, based on their actions, apparently do not believe they are obligated to love others. We excuse our unkind and critical remarks against our brethren with the thoughtless comment “that’s just the way I am” instead of striving to grow in love (Eph. 4:15-16).
Christians are not to love occasionally, when convenient or desirable, but are to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Eph. 5:2). It is to become a way of life, with Jesus as our guide. We are to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philip. 2:2). We are to “increase and abound in love” (I Thess. 3:12).
We are instructed to “let love be without hypocrisy” (Rom. 12:9). Our love must always be true and genuine. The friendly, pat-you-on-the-back-in-person Christian who becomes a critical, unkind, backstabber when talking to others in your absence practices a love of dissimulation. Our love is to be unfeigned and from a pure heart (I Pet. 1:22).
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). Christians are good neighbors. We should be the kind of people whose association others would want.
James reminded people who were partial: “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9).
The word “love” is used 310 times in the King James Version of the Bible, not counting other forms, such as “loved” or “loves.” Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God, and second to that is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-40). I Corinthians 13 emphasizes love and gives some short but plain definitions. One article cannot begin to cover all the teaching concerning love but can remind all of the emphasis that God, Jesus and His disciples placed on it.
Many of our problems, both physically and spiritually, come because we do not love as the scriptures define love and the practice of it. We seem to think we can disobey the second-greatest commandment, at will, and God will ignore our transgressions. What a sad day it will be if we have lived faithful in all things and are condemned in the judgment because of the unloving things we do to one another.
Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians: “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (I Thess. 4:9). I need not have written this article for the same reason. But I urge all of us to take it to heart and practice the love that God has taught you and me from the beginning of time.